Major DCA Functions
Consumer Assistance Our toll-free telephone line, (800) 952-5210, is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Automated services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Consumer service representatives can answer consumer and licensee questions in 140 different languages, assist in the filing of complaints, mail helpful publications and refer callers to the appropriate government or private agency for more assistance. Hearing-impaired persons may call TDD (800) 326-2297. Sacramento-area consumers may call 445-1254 or TDD 916-928-1227. The hotline receives nearly one million calls each year.
To reach a specific board or bureau, please call the board or bureau directly.
Education The Department helps consumers make wise purchasing decisions by informing them about the laws that protect them, explaining what they should know about a business, and letting them know what their responsibilities are to protect themselves. Knowledgeable consumers discourage the activities of unlicensed, negligent, or unethical practitioners and encourage licensees to be more competitive (i.e., to raise the quality of their goods and services and/or lower their prices). Numerous DCA booklets, brochures, fact sheets, and consumer guides are distributed to help inform and educate the public and licensees. To order publications, call the Department's Publication Hotline at (866) 320-8652. For a copy of the publications list, call the Department at (916) 574-7370 or write: Publications Unit, Department of Consumer Affairs, P.O. Box 310, Sacramento, CA 95802.
Licensing Licensing only those professionals who pass specialized examinations and meet experience and education requirements ensures that only qualified individuals are legally permitted to provide services. Licensing also ensures that practitioners perform their duties to a certain standard and provides consumers with a means of recourse if a service is not delivered fairly or competently. Note: Certain occupations are registered or certified, rather than being licensed. Registration and certification do not require passing a test. The Department also helps licensees maintain high standards of competence, quality, service, and ethical behavior through licensee education programs. Educating licensees and consumers also reduces fraud and lessens the need for (and costs of) investigation and prosecution of violators and other enforcement actions. The Department believes that combining education with enforcement is the most effective approach to making the marketplace safe for consumers.
Complaint Resolution The DCA Complaint Resolution Program handles many complaints received against occupations regulated by the Department's bureaus and programs. Complaint Resolution staff members work with those involved to promote mutually acceptable solutions to problems. Resolution of disputes is faster and less costly for both the consumer and the business than taking the matter to the courts. More serious complaints and those with potential consumer harm are referred to members of the DCA enforcement staff for investigation.
Enforcement Enforcement of consumer laws is one of DCA's primary responsibilities. The Department's enforcement staff works with the Office of the Attorney General and local district attorneys to reduce fraud in the marketplace. Resulting disciplinary actions may include Temporary Restraining Orders; Interim Suspension Orders; and license probations, suspensions, or revocations. The Department also has the authority to assess fines and issue Citations, Notices of Violation, Letters of Reprimand, and Cease and Desist orders. In less severe cases, enforcement staff works with licensees to eliminate or prevent performance problems.
Smog Check Cleaning California's air by reducing smog is one of DCA's most important goals. In addition to biennial vehicle inspections, the Smog Check program has other important elements. For example: using remote sensing devices to monitor automobile emissions levels on California's roadways; requiring repair of gross-polluting vehicles; increasing training of smog technicians and station owners on emerging technologies; and educating the public about their important role in cleaning the air we breathe.
For additional information:
Call the Consumer Information Center at: (800) 952-5210
Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Information Division
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N 112
Sacramento, CA 95834