A legacy of service to California consumers
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and its 36 licensing entities are proud to protect, educate, and empower 40 million Californians. But did you know DCA and its entities have been doing so for decades, and, in some cases, more than a century?
CALIFORNIA CONSUMER-PROTECTION FOUNDATIONS
References to California’s consumer-protection efforts go back as early as 1876, when the Legislature passed the first Medical Practice Act, imposing basic regulation on the practice of medicine to ensure quality health care. The act established a Board of Examiners within the California State Medical Society—the precursor to DCA’s current Medical Board of California.
As the years rolled by and the new state grew, so did the need for professional services—plus the need for oversight of the professional services Californians depended on. In addition to doctors, some of the first state-regulated professions were dentists (1885), surveyors (1891), pharmacists (1891), and veterinarians (1893). These and other vital professional groups were overseen by specific organizations charged by the state to establish regulatory guidelines and to strengthen consumer protection.
STRENGTHENING A STATEWIDE EFFORT
Fast-forward to 1936: With an increasing number of professions and businesses being state-regulated, the Legislature approved Assembly Bill 880 creating California’s Business and Professions Code as well as DCA’s centralized statewide oversight precursor, the Department of Professional and Vocational Standards. AB 880 was signed into law by Governor Frank Merriam and went into effect in 1937.
The Department of Professional and Vocational Standards was originally composed of:
- The Board of Dental Examiners of California
- The Board of Medical Examiners of the State of California
- The State Board of Optometry
- The California State Board of Pharmacy
- The Board of Examiners in Veterinary Medicine
- The State Board of Accountancy
- The California State Board of Architecture
- The State Board of Barber Examiners
- The State Board of Registration for Civil Engineers
- The Contractors’ State License Board
- The State Board of Cosmetology
- The State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers
- The Structural Pest Control Board
- The Yacht and Ship Brokers Commission
- The Bureau of Furniture and Bedding Inspection
- “Any other boards, offices, or officers subject to its jurisdiction by law.”
The Department continued its consumer-protection work for 34 years, growing until it reached nearly 30 licensing entities under its regulatory umbrella. Then, in 1971, Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation changing the Department’s name to the current “Department of Consumer Affairs.” DCA marked the 50th year of its current name and form in 2021: a golden anniversary of upholding California’s gold standard in consumer protection.
TODAY’S DCA AND YOU
As it always has, today’s DCA protects and serves California consumers. The Department accomplishes this by administering more than 3.4 million licenses in 280 license types including permits, certificates, and registrations through the licensing and regulatory entities under its jurisdiction. DCA’s 36 current licensing entities set and enforce minimum qualifications for the professionals, establishments, and businesses they regulate to prevent consumers from being hurt or scammed by unscrupulous or unqualified people or deceptive or unsafe services.
And though DCA and its many boards and bureaus have been working hard on Californians’ behalf for decades, it doesn’t take years of experience to become an empowered consumer. Using today’s technology, with DCA’s help, you can easily protect, educate, and empower yourself and those around you by:
- Checking the license—It only takes five seconds to check a professional’s license. But those five seconds can save your money, your health, and your peace of mind. Simply go to https://search.dca.ca.gov, enter the person’s name, business name, and profession, and check that the license is current and in good standing.
- Contacting DCA’s Consumer Information Center—DCA’s Consumer Information Center offers the consumer assistance you need in more than 200 languages. Call toll-free (800) 952-5210 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email email@example.com.
- Filing a complaint—If you have a serious concern about a professional or business licensed by DCA, let us know. File a complaint so the Department and its boards and bureaus can look into the problem for you.
- Following DCA on social media—Follow DCA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube to get consumer alerts and need-to-know information ASAP.
For more information on the Department of Consumer Affairs, its boards and bureaus, its many free resources, and its longstanding consumer-protection mission and legacy, visit www.dca.ca.gov.