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Consumer protection experts explain what to look for when hiring a professional contractor

7,500 contractor complaints in Florida in 2019
Posted at 2:17 AM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 07:30:43-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Quarantine and home improvement projects seem to be the new "it" thing to accomplish during the pandemic. But if you're looking to hire a contractor, county leaders warn you need to be extra careful who you hire.

Eric Olsen with Hillsborough County's Consumer Protection Services explained there are certain pieces of information a person should search for before hiring someone to come into your home.

"You want to make sure that a contractor is licensed. You can do a quick search online to see what kind of complaints they have," Olsen said.

A simple online search of potential contractors can be done on the Better Business Bureau's website.

Olsen's office also takes calls from people who would like more information about a contractor. He recommendeds you search the Department of Business and Professional Regulation's website, which contains state records.

When searching for a professional contractor, Olsen explained there are two specific things you want to keep an eye out for.

"Are they licensed?" Olsen said. "And what is their service history look like?"

ABC Action News requested state records from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to look into contractor complaints and if the agency is seeing an uptick during the pandemic.

According to state records, the DBPR received 7,573 complaints from February 1, 2019 to February 1, 2020.

The number of complaints fell earlier this year. The agency received just 2,446 complaints between February 1 to June 29.

Olsen said the situation is similar in Hillsborough County. He's seen a slight decline in complaints arrive in his office.

You can call 813-635-8316 to speak with a representative from Hillsborough County's Consumer Protection Services.

To file a complaint about a contractor, call the DBPR at 850-487-1395 or click here.