West / Regional Reports

AZ Registrar’s Enforcement Efforts Are In Process

PHOENIX, AZ — The Arizona Registrar of Contractors has begun issuing warning letters and citations to contractors who are not in compliance with the new contractor advertising laws. A notification will also be sent to the publication where the non-compliant advertising appears.

In August 2001, the Arizona legislature passed a law that requires all contractor advertisements to include license numbers preceded by the acronym “ROC.” If a contractor is working under the provisions of the “Handyman Exemption” and, therefore, not required to have a license, their ad must now include the phrase “not a licensed contractor.” This exemption applies to contractors who only perform work where no building permit is required and the total contract price is less than $750.

Licensed contractors who fail to comply with the new advertising law are subject to discipline under the Registrar of Contractors’ statutes. Unlicensed contractors who fail to include “not a licensed contractor” in advertisements lose their exempt status from licensure and are subject to criminal prosecution or civil fines. And, they become subject to investigation and prosecution for violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

The state’s 43,000 licensed contractors have been notified, as have newspaper and magazine publishers via letters, news releases, and other notices to publishers. Advertising and marketing firms throughout the state were also made aware of the new law.

According to Michael Goldwater, agency director, license-number disclosure benefits both contractors and consumers. Consumers can use license numbers to verify license and complaint status on the agency’s automated telephone system and on its website. Licensed contractors often use the Registrar’s services to promote themselves to potential customers.

“Licensed contractors with a history of few consumer complaints have a distinct competitive advantage over licensed contractors with multiple valid complaints and also over unlicensed contractors. Consumer protections offered by the Registrar are not available to consumers who choose to use unlicensed contractors,” said Goldwater.

Since last August, when the law went into effect, representatives from the Registrar have been working with a variety of publications to ensure compliance. These publications include daily newspapers, monthly magazines, as well as Qwest Dex directories.

“We have seen an increase in compliance, but we have a long way to go to be at 100%. These enforcement actions are necessary — and, if we must, we will seek assistance from the Attorney General’s office to ensure complete compliance,” said Goldwater.

The Attorney General’s office has agreed to assist the Registrar with enforcement of the new advertising laws.

For more information or to file an advertising complaint, call 602-542-1525 (888-271-9286 toll-free outside Maricopa County) or visit the Registrar’s website, www.rc.state.az.us.

Publication date: 08/19/2002

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