Since its inception, the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has consistently worked to empower and protect consumers from unscrupulous and unfair business practices through oversight, enforcement, and licensing of professions.
DCA consists of 36 boards, bureaus, a committee, and a commission. The Department administers more than 3.9 million licenses and more than 250 license types such as certificates, registrations, and permits for architects, optometrists, chiropractors, dentists, automotive repair dealers, veterinarians, and more.
Licensing ensures that professionals perform their jobs to an acceptable standard and provide consumers with a remedy if a service is not delivered to them in a satisfactory manner.
Most businesses operate ethically. However, some don’t, and if you aren’t a savvy consumer, you may be taken advantage of by them and become a victim of fraud.
Older adults are often deliberate targets of scammers and fraudulent activity because they are more likely to live alone and trust and depend on other people to take care of their finances and other personal matters.
However, DCA maintains that the best way for consumers to protect themselves from fraud, scams, or other problems is to be aware of potential pitfalls ahead of time.
DCA’s website is a great source for consumers, and has tips and resources that can help you make informed decisions on everything from automotive services to hiring a contractor.
Always make sure the person or company you hire is licensed. For professionals and businesses licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, use the license search tool at https://search.dca.ca.gov or call (800) 952-5210.
Here are some other self-help tips.
BEFORE YOU BUY:
- Ask about the refund, return, and exchange policy.
- Always get a written copy of guarantees and warranties.
- Don’t sign any contract or legal document until you read and understand it. Insist that any extras you are promised are put in writing.
AFTER YOU BUY:
- Save the paperwork: contracts, sales receipts, cancelled checks, owner’s manuals, warranty documents, etc.
- Be sure to follow the service and use instructions in the owner’s manual. The way you use or take care of a product could affect your warranty.
SOLVING A PROBLEM:
- Check with your credit card company. You may have the right to withhold payment if the product or service is unsatisfactory.
- Complain as soon as possible. A letter to the manager of the business that sold the product or performed the service is usually effective. Keep copies of all correspondence.
To file a complaint against a DCA licensee, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs at www.dca.ca.gov or call (800) 952-5210 to have a complaint form mailed to you.
Interested in a CSLB senior scam speaker?
DCA’s Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) offers Senior Scam Stopper Seminars that provide information about how seniors can protect themselves from falling victim to construction related scams, request a speaker contact CSLB’s outreach coordinator at (916) 255-4693 for details.