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by Joyia Emard

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has California consumers covered from A to Z. With 36 entities, DCA licenses and regulates over 3 million professionals to protect consumers like you from unscrupulous vendors or providers.

DCA has various free resources available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help educate and empower consumers. To learn how–watch the latest video from DCA’s Office of Public Affairs and find out just how much you know DCA.


For additional information about DCA and its entities. Visit the following links:

DCA Board/Bureau by Profession

DCA Consumer Resources

DCA License Search

DCA Open Data Portal

How to file a complaint

DCA contact us page

DCA’s Consumer Information Center (CIC) page

 

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On behalf of the Statewide Overdose Safety (SOS) Workgroup and partners, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the following action notice detailing best practices to consider and offering supportive resources to use when inheriting patients on opioid therapy due to facility closures and other causes.

This action notice is signed by CDPH, Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), and the Medical Board of California (MBC).

Please click the image below to view the statement in its entirety.

 

Click image to view the action notice.

 

 

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Contractors State License Board cautions consumers to check licenses and avoid being victimized by unlicensed individuals

Sign reading homeowners beware

Editor’s note: this news release was distributed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Click here to view a printer-friendly version of this news release on the CSLB website.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Devastating wildfires have destroyed thousands of structures in California and many survivors must now clear property and start the rebuilding process. The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) urges wildfire survivors to hire only California-licensed contractors to avoid being victimized by unlicensed persons and transient criminals.

Additionally, wildfire debris removal should not be done without first reviewing federal and state options or before consulting local officials. More information is available on the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website under “debris removal.”

“Disasters bring out the very best in people, with strangers and neighbors helping each other,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals are drawn to these areas and try to take advantage of vulnerable home and business owners. Wildfire survivors need to be especially cautious about hiring reputable, licensed contractors to repair, rebuild, or clear property.”

A CSLB-issued license is required for any construction job totaling $500 or more in labor and materials. Additionally, it is a felony to contract without a license in a declared disaster area. Licensed contractors have met experience and testing requirements carry a license bond, passed a criminal background check and carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees.

To help survivors, CSLB’s Disaster Help Center webpage offers publications and videos. These include an After a Disaster, Don’t Get Scammed brochure, and a Rebuilding After a Disaster video and fact sheet. All information is also available by calling CSLB’s Disaster Hotline, 800-962-1125, which is staffed Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by calling the automated assistance line at 800-321-CSLB (2752).

“CSLB will aggressively seek those trying to take advantage of wildfire survivors by partnering with local and state agencies to conduct sweeps and undercover enforcement operations in disaster areas,” Fogt said.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

  •  Hire only California-licensed contractors. Ask to see the license. The number must be on all advertisements, contracts and business cards.
  •  Check the license number on CSLB’s website or by phone at 800-321-CSLB (2752). Confirm the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
  •  Create a personalized list of licensed, area contractors using the Find My Licensed Contractor.
  • Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
  • Don’t rush into decisions and don’t hire the first contractor who comes along.
  • Don’t pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000—whichever is less.
  • Don’t pay cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work. Only pay for work as it is completed to your satisfaction
  • Keep a job file of all project papers, including correspondence and copies of all payments.
  •  Avoid making the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.
  •  In most cases, in a disaster area, consumers have up to seven business days to cancel a contract without penalty.
  •  For more information, visit CSLB’s website, or connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

About CSLB: CSLB operates under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs and licenses and regulates nearly 281,000 contractors in California. In 2020, CSLB helped consumers recover more than $26 million in ordered restitution.

Contractors State License Board logo

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California victim’s goods discovered hidden in a storage facility by state investigators

 SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS) is warning consumers about malicious and deceptive practices by unpermitted moving companies and unscrupulous household moving brokers after uncovering a series of fraudulent activity by an unpermitted mover originating in California.

Last month, BHGS investigators uncovered household goods belonging to a California consumer who was victimized by the unpermitted mover. The victim’s belongings were discovered at a storage facility in Northern California three months after the company was scheduled to relocate the goods to another state. The unpermitted mover failed to deliver the household items and ended all communications with the victim until a complaint was filed with BHGS.

District Attorneys from Napa and Sacramento Counties, New Jersey-based investigators from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the New York Police Department assisted with this special operation. They also connected the same unpermitted mover to three other fraudulent cases in California.

BHGS urges California consumers to utilize its license lookup search tool at https://bhgs.dca.ca.gov/enforcement/lookup.shtml.

“Consumers need to be aware that all moving companies transporting used household goods in the State of California must hold a valid Household Mover’s Permit by BHGS,” said BHGS Assistant Director/Deputy Bureau Chief Tonya Corcoran. “Moving in itself can be stressful and consumers can avoid further complications by making plans and checking a mover’s permit well in advance of a move, before hiring anyone, or signing a contract.”

Consumers should also know that moving companies must provide a “not-to-exceed” price for all household moves. This is the maximum amount they can charge unless a consumer requests additional services. Those changes must be detailed in a “Change of Order for Moving Services.”

A moving company doing business in California cannot hold or store a consumer’s goods and then demand more money or a storage fee without a legitimate “Change of Order for Moving Services” contract.

Consumers Can Protect Themselves and Know their Rights!

BHGS has moving tips to avoid getting scammed by a deceptive moving company:

  • Make your plans, do your research, and check a mover’s permit well in advance of your move.
  • Hire a licensed, BHGS permitted moving company that you have researched and vetted with various sources. Online reviews and postings are a great way to identify movers with an alarming pattern of problems you want to avoid.
  • Check the permit status of all movers you are considering using to ensure they are authorized to operate. It’s easy to check and the information is invaluable.
  • When possible, visit the mover’s place of business in person.
  • For moves within California, a moving company may provide you with a written estimate only after it has conducted a visual inspection of the items you need moved. Verbal estimates, estimates given over the internet, or estimates given without a visual inspection are illegal and may not be enforceable.
  • Be aware that moving brokers who are not movers are required by Federal law to identify themselves as brokers. Moving brokers arrange moving services to be provided by other companies, which is different than speaking directly with a moving service company conducting the move. Again, they must identify themselves as brokers. It’s the law.
  • A red flag: If a broker or moving company asks for a deposit upfront via cash or mobile money transfer apps, this could be an indication you need to ask more questions. Get clarification about whether you are speaking to a broker or mover, make sure you know who is taking possession of your belongings, and ask for documentation to show what services you are getting for what you are paying.
  • Never allow a mover to make a verbal agreement with you. Always obtain a contract and read through it carefully before signing it.
  • Do not allow a mover to place any of your items onto the truck until they give you the contract. Make sure nothing has changed according to what you agreed and that the “not-to-exceed” price is on the contract before you sign it.
  • If you change the terms of service by adding items to be moved or changing moving dates after the contract has been signed, your final cost may change, and a Change of Order for Services must be completed.
  • If your mover is traveling across state lines, a good resource to check permit status and get information about consumer rights is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

 If you discover a mover is operating in California without a license or valid permit, you can file a complaint online at www.bhgs.dca.ca.gov or call (916) 999-2041.

For more information, visit the BHGS household movers information page at https://bhgs.dca.ca.gov/consumers/movers.shtml.

Click here for a printer-friendly version.

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Consumer Information Center office sign

DCA’s Consumer Information Center includes both the Call Center and the Correspondence Unit.

“Operators are standing by!” That as-seen-on-TV motto is more than true of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Consumer Information Center (CIC) Call Center, where employees field thousands of questions each day from licensees, applicants, and everyday Californians.

Call Center staff are committed to providing clear, user-friendly information. They answer individuals’ questions on the spot, transfer or refer callers to the best Department contact, or identify the government agencies and community organizations that can best address callers’ needs if necessary.

“No two calls are ever the same,” said CIC Call Center manager Paul Rahul. “One call will be from an individual looking to become licensed as a manicurist, the next will be from someone wanting to find out about how to get a guard card, and the next will be a senior concerned about being taken advantage of by a local car mechanic. Every call is totally unique.”

DCA's CIC Call Center: By the NumbersRahul, who has been supervising the CIC Call Center for nearly seven years, credits the Call Center and CIC employees themselves as well as extremely supportive DCA management with the center’s success in providing essential, educational, and empowering consumer and licensee information to hundreds of thousands of callers each year.

“The service our employees provide is worn like a badge of honor,” said Rahul. “I’m so proud of my staff—they can pivot on a dime at any time. They take such pride in their work: They treat every question as a quest to make sure the caller is taken care of. CIC employees are on the frontlines of public service and, even during the pandemic, they have been there providing answers for the people of California.”

Anything else Rahul wants Californians to know about the CIC Call Center?

“We’re out there, ready to take calls!” he replied.

Consumers may also write to the CIC Correspondence Unit at dca@dca.ca.gov or visit www.dca.ca.gov.

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A court reporter uses a high-technology stenography machine.

They can affect your finances, your career, and even your life as a whole: Court cases and legal proceedings are some of the most impactful situations you can ever face. With the stakes so high, don’t leave your legal recordkeeping to a cell phone, a tape recorder, or a notepad: Call a licensed California court reporter.

In our state, certified shorthand reporters —commonly referred to as court reporters—are licensed by the Court Reporters Board of California (CRB). To be licensed, a court reporter must demonstrate competency. Using a licensed court reporter is a smart investment to help ensure you receive accurate, timely, and competent transcription service. Here’s why:

  1. Accuracy—You’ve only got one chance to accurately capture the legal record. A licensed court reporter provides a word-for-word record and is trained and empowered to ask participants to repeat words, to speak up when necessary, and to clarify technical terms.
  2. Qualification—Licensed court reporters must pass a three-part licensing exam and must complete hundreds of hours of training in English, legal and medical terminology, and transcription preparation, plus a minimum of 60 internship hours. 3
  3. Certification—Not all transcripts are created equal: Only certified transcripts created by a licensed court reporter are guaranteed to be accepted in court.
  4. Documentation—For appeals, the accuracy of transcripts taken during the original proceedings is critical and may impact the ability of your appeals to move forward.
  5. Regulation—If a problem or disagreement arises with a licensed court reporter, you can file a complaint with CRB to investigate on your behalf and to ensure the law is followed.

5 Reasons Why You Should Choose a Licensed Court ReporterIf you need the services of a court reporter, make sure they are licensed by CRB. Find out more about California licensed court reporters, their training and regulation, and their vital services at www.courtreportersboard.ca.gov; to check a court reporter’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: Reporting on Court Reporters

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A lemon sits in front of a bright yellow car.Si su vehículo nuevo tiene defectos de garantía serios que el concesionario no puede reparar, después de varios intentos de reparación, usted tal vez sea eligible para recibir un reembolso o le reemplacen el vehículo. Eso es la Ley de Limón de California.

A happy father, mother and son take a selfie of themselves at a car dealership.¿Aplica la Ley de Limón de California a mi vehículo? La Ley de Limón cubre los siguientes vehículos nuevos y usados que se venden en California y que tienen una garantía de vehículo nuevo expedida por el fabricante:

  • Automóviles, camionetas, vagonetas y SUVs.
  • El chasis, la cabina del chasis y la transmisión de una casa rodante.
  • Vehículos que son propiedad del concesionario y vehículos de demostración.
  • Muchos vehículos comprados o arrendados principalmente para uso commercial.
  • Vehículos comprados o arrendados para propósitos personales, familiares, o domésticos.

¿Qué hago si el fabricante o el concesionario no puede arreglar mi vehículo? Si el fabricante o el concesionario no puede reparar un defecto grave de su vehículo cubierto por la garantía después de un número azonable´de intentos, el fabricante debe:

  • Reemplazar el vehículo; o
  • Reembolsar el precio de la compra (lo que usted prefiera).

¿Qué significa un número “razonable” de intentos de reparación? No hay un número establecido. Sin embargo, la Presunción de la Ley de Limón de California establece lineamientos para determiner si se ha realizado un número “razonable” de intentos de reparación:

  • El fabricante o concesionario no han solucionado el problema después de cuatro intentos o más; o
  • Los problemas de su vehículo pueden llegar a causar la muerte o lesiones graves si llega a conducirlo y el fabricante o concesionario han hecho por lo menos dos intentos en arreglarlo sin tener éxito; o
  • El vehículo ha estado en el taller durante más de 30 días (nonecesariamente consecutivos) para reparar cualquier problema cubierto por su garantía.

¿Necesito acudir a los tribunals para que se appliqué la Ley de Limón en mi caso? No. En muchos casos el fabricante de su vehícluo puede ofrecer un program de arbitraje certificado por el estado que puede ayudarle a resolver su disputa. De ser así:

  • Usted debe solicitar arbitraje para reclamar los beneficios de Presunción de la Ley de Limón.
  • Usted puede aceptar o rechazar la decicsión del árbitro.

Yo compré mi vehículo usado sin garantía. ¿Aplica la Ley de Limón a mi vehículo? No. La Ley de Limón sólo se aplica a disputas relacionadas con la garantía original de vehículo nuevo del fabricante.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con el Programa de Certificación de Arbitraje al (800) 952-5210 o acp@dca.ca.gov.

 

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A lemon sits in front of a bright yellow car.If your new car has a serious warranty defect that the dealer can’t fix—even after several attempts—you may be eligible to get your money back or get another car. That’s California’s Lemon Law.

Here are five key questions and answers car buyers need to ask and know about the Lemon Law, courtesy of Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program (ACP):

  1. A happy father, mother and son take a selfie of themselves at a car dealership.Does California’s Lemon Law apply to my vehicle? The Lemon Law covers these new and used vehicles that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty: cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs; the chassis, chassis cab, and drive train of a motor home; dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators; many vehicles purchased or leased, primarily for business use; vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household purposes.
  2. What if the manufacturer or dealer can’t fix my vehicle? If the manufacturer or dealer can’t repair a serious warranty defect in your vehicle after a “reasonable” number of attempts, the manufacturer must either replace the vehicle or refund its purchase price (whichever you prefer).
  3. What is a “reasonable” number of repair attempts? There is no set number. However, California’s Lemon Law Presumption contains these guidelines for determining when a “reasonable” number of repair attempts have been made (within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles):
  • The manufacturer or dealer hasn’t fixed the same problem after four or more attempts, or
  • Your vehicle’s problems could cause death or serious bodily injury if it is driven, and the manufacturer or dealer has made at least two unsuccessful repair attempts, or
  • The vehicle has been in the shop for more than 30 days (not necessarily in a row) for repair of any problems covered by its warranty.
  1. Do I need to go to court for the Lemon Law to help me? In many cases, the manufacturer of your vehicle may offer a state-certified arbitration program that may assist you in resolving your dispute. If so:
  • You must request arbitration to claim the benefits of the Lemon Law Presumption.
  • You may accept or reject the arbitrator’s decision.
  1. I bought my vehicle used with no warranty. Does California’s Lemon Law still apply to my vehicle? The Lemon Law applies only to disputes involving the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.

Have more questions or need more information on California’s Lemon Law? ACP is happy to help: Visit www.LemonLaw.ca.gov, email acp@dca.ca.gov, or call (800) 952-5210 for assistance.

Related Reading: Is Your Car a Lemon?

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Man looking in medicine cabinet

Be prepared and stay healthy with key tips from the California State Board of Pharmacy

If a natural disaster or other declared emergency strikes your community, you may be forced to leave home with little notice.

Preparing a go bag—especially if you take prescription drugs or use specialized health care items—is critical. In addition, it’s important to know how to care for your medical needs if you are in a public shelter or away from home for an extended period.

Here are some tips from the California State Board of Pharmacy to help you prepare your medications in advance and stay safe during an evacuation.

Before evacuation:

  • Pack a “patient care kit” in a waterproof bag. Important items to pack include:
    • At least one week’s supply of your prescription medications. NOTE: It is important to periodically use and replenish this supply so the medications in your kit are always fresh and not expired.
    • A list of your medical contacts including your doctor’s office and pharmacy.
    • A complete list of your current medications including drug names, dosages, and allergies. Also include any over-the-counter drugs and supplements you are taking.
    • Copies of your medication prescriptions.Prescription drugs in a backpack
    • Copies of your medical insurance, Medi-Cal, or Medicare cards.
    • Specialized health care items you may use, including:
      • Extra hearing aid batteries
      • Oxygen supply
      • Insulin
      • Catheters
      • An extra pair of eyeglasses
      • Wheelchair batteries
    • If you take medications that require refrigeration, have a cooler with ice packs available. Also add nonperishable food items if you must take medications with a meal.
    • Have a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks to cover copayments or buy supplies. Remember that automated teller machines and electronic payment transactions may not be available if power is out.
    • Go to Healthcare Ready at healthcareready.org to fill out and print a personalized wallet card with your prescriptions and important patient information.

During evacuation:

  • Take your medications. It is important to stay on your medication treatment plan.
  • Take care of your medications. Make sure your medications are not exposed to water or extreme temperatures.
  • Find a pharmacy. Go online to Rx Open to find an open pharmacy in areas impacted by disaster: healthcareready.org/rxopen. Be aware conditions may change rapidly, so call ahead if possible to verify the pharmacy is open.

Packing a supply of prescription medications and other essential items in your go bag will save critical time and help protect your health if you are forced to leave home suddenly. In addition, knowing you are prepared for an emergency can provide peace of mind. Be prepared!

For more information on California pharmacy professionals, their licensure, and their vital services, visit https://www.pharmacy.ca.gov; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

 

California State Board of Pharmacy logo

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