INTRODUCTIONIn these tight economic times, people are more cost conscious than ever.Everyone is searching for ways to save...
It also means that they are skilled in all the health and safety aspects of the workthey do in order to safeguard your hea...
Chapter One                           WHAT IS A LICENSE?A professional operating license is the authorization to practice ...
•   Conviction of a crime   •   Performing unnecessary or unauthorized work   •   Practicing under the influence of drugs ...
Chapter Two         HOW DO I FIND OUT IF THEY’RE LICENSED?The simplest way to find out if a contractor is licensed is to a...
Chapter Three         HOME IMPROVEMENT AND CONSTRUCTION                   CONTRACTORSMyriad professions come under the umb...
that unlicensed contractors be caught and prevented from operating in yourcommunity!One Florida evening, in October 1998, ...
Chapter Four      MEDICAL AND DENTAL LICENSED PROFESSIONSAs surprising as it may first seem, there have been many horror s...
Heck allegedly never wore gloves or washed his hands prior to treating patients,even purportedly after using the bathroom....
Chapter Five               LICENSED VETERINARY FACILITIESStatistics show that Americans love their pets. They have indulge...
other side at which point he stuck his own finger. According to the pet owner,Gentsch’s finger began to bleed, requiring a...
Chapter Six  COSMETIC SURGERY AND PERSONAL CARE LICENSED                PROFESSIONALSBeauty is big business in the United ...
risk your own personal safety. Check to see if your technician is licensed byvisiting www.LicenseCheck.com.
Chapter Seven                  CHILD AND DAY CARE FACILITIESOver the years, many stories have been told, trials held, sent...
Chapter Eight            YOU NEED A LICENSE TO PRACTICE LAWAnyone wishing to practice law must first obtain a legal state ...
Federal court’s a bit different when you’re sitting in the defendant’s seat.What does this mean for you? Well, in some ins...
Don’t let an unlicensed lawyer or legal agency take advantage of you. Always usea legally licensed attorney or agency to p...
Chapter Nine           IS YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT LICENSED?And does it really matter? Yes, it does.State departments govern...
Sellers often don’t realize their legal liability to disclose previous repair historyor problems that exist with the prope...
Chapter Ten                                  EPILOGUEBy now, there should be no doubt in your mind that ensuring that thep...
LICENSED PROFESSIONSWhile by no means exhaustive, this is a guide to many of the types of professionslikely to require a l...
License Check - Check the License of Professionals Before You Hire Them
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License Check - Check the License of Professionals Before You Hire Them

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The importance of performing a license check on professionals before becoming a patient or client can not be overstated. Numerous horror stories exist in which people have suffered loss of health, well-being and financial security at the hands of unlicensed professionals.

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License Check - Check the License of Professionals Before You Hire Them

  1. 1. INTRODUCTIONIn these tight economic times, people are more cost conscious than ever.Everyone is searching for ways to save money any way they can and, for some,hiring and patronizing unlicensed contractors seems like an easy, risk-free wayto cut expenses, whether it’s on home improvement projects, cosmetic andpersonal care, or even medical and dental procedures. The list is substantial.This book will give you an important look into what types of professions areregulated and why, and includes details of some very real horror stories thathave transpired by the use of unlicensed professionals where not only financialdisaster resulted but also personal tragedy—injury, disfigurement and, in somecases, even death. There is no such thing as a risk-free unlicensed professional.When you finish reading this short eBook, you will be able to assess many of therisk factors involved in using an unlicensed professional. Inside are tips on howto determine whether a contractor is indeed licensed and how to verify that thelicense is not only current but also legitimate.Unlicensed “professionals” will tell you that the only reason they don’t have alicense is to be able to offer you lower prices while vigorously asserting that theycan provide the same quality as a licensed professional. But when you cutcorners to save money by using their services, you may not realize that, in orderto make a profit, they’re cutting corners too.The reason they can do this is because, by being unlicensed, they dodge thenormal expenses of a legally run business, and that extends to insurance andhiring licensed workers. Unlicensed (and therefore illegal) contractors do nothave quality or safety standards to which they must adhere.When you use a legal contractor, you have legal recourse to sue forcompensation in the event of negligence, poor performance or other misconduct.And they carry liability insurance to cover the damage claims.When you use an unlicensed contractor, if he or she fails to provide anacceptable level of work, your likelihood of recouping your damages, subsequentrepair and other out of pocket expenses are next to nil.Both state and federal governments will tell you that the reason licensingrequirements exist is to guarantee a level of protection for the consumer.Possessing a professional license means that the contractor has undergonesufficient certified training to provide you with not just a higher standard ofwork but also insurable work, so that if anything goes wrong, you are protectedand can be reimbursed for damages.
  2. 2. It also means that they are skilled in all the health and safety aspects of the workthey do in order to safeguard your health and safety. After all, you are the onewho has to live with the end result!In many states, operating without a license is a felony and subject to hefty finesand other penalties.There are, however, other aspects to choosing a licensed contractor over anunlicensed one that you may not have considered, such as background checks.When you use an unlicensed contractor, you have no way of assessing theircompetency, whether or not they know what they’re doing, and if seriousproblems have arisen from their work in the past. You have no assurance theywon’t take your money and walk away from a partially finished job, leaving youthe added expense of hiring someone else to finish it. The newspapers are filledwith tales of such fraudulent behavior.When you use a licensed professional, you have the added assurance that acriminal background check has been performed, so that you are notinadvertently permitting a potential predator or former felon from crossing thethreshold of your home and putting you, your loved ones and your beloved homeat risk.If you are tempted to try to do the work yourself and avoid using a contractor,licensed or unlicensed, it’s important to obey the law and obtain any permitsnecessary for such work. The penalties for doing any sort of home improvementproject that requires a building inspection to certify the work has been donesafely and correctly can be quite stiff. Don’t take the chance. Stay on the rightside of the law.Isn’t it worth doing your homework before beginning a major (or even relativelyminor) home improvement project? Using www.LicenseCheck.com provides youwith the security and peace of mind that you need before hiring any contractoror service provider.
  3. 3. Chapter One WHAT IS A LICENSE?A professional operating license is the authorization to practice a particular skillor profession, and to represent oneself by use of a professional title (e.g., dentist,doctor, electrician, plumber, landscape architect, etc.).A license is often granted for the professional lifetime of the license holder untiland unless it has been annulled, suspended or revoked by the state that hasgranted it. Each state within the United States dictates what professions requireoperating licenses and typically require each license holder to renew theirlicense after a set amount of time, usually two to three years.Each state government maintains a website on that state’s licensingrequirements, and should list all the occupations requiring a license and whatthe licensing criteria is for each profession.The license applicant generally sends in an application with their personal andprofessional information, and corroborating evidence of the satisfaction of suchlicensing criteria, including but not limited to schools, testing agencies, boardcertifiers, other licensing authorities and employers.State licensing offices require certified copies of such documents bearing theoriginal signature of each organization’s official, which must be dispatcheddirectly from the organization to ensure accuracy and legitimacy. The statelicensing office may, on its own initiative, contact organizations to verifyauthenticity before granting a license.In addition to verifying that the licensee possesses the necessary accreditationand skill sets for the chosen profession, each state has established a general codeof conduct for all licensees, with an accompanying law outlining professionalmisconduct.Professional misconduct is generally defined as the failure of a licensedprofessional to meet the expected standards of professional practice. Suchprofessional misconduct behaviors may include but is not limited to: • Negligence and/or incompetence • Practicing beyond the scope of the profession • Permitting an unlicensed person to participate in or perform work requiring a license • Refusing services to any client based on race, ethnicity, creed, color, etc. • Physical or sexual abuse • Unauthorized release of confidential information or property
  4. 4. • Conviction of a crime • Performing unnecessary or unauthorized work • Practicing under the influence of drugs or alcoholOn top of all that, each profession possesses and enforces its own set of rules andregulations for each established member of said profession. This may includetraining and continuing education after a specified time period in order to keepup with industry enhancements, laws, health and safety codes and concerns, toname just a few.All this is done to protect you, the consumer.Here at www.LicenseCheck.com, we work hard to protect you as well. Before youuse any contractor or service provider, visit us at www.LicenseCheck.com andverify today whether your future contractor is currently licensed to legallypractice in your state.
  5. 5. Chapter Two HOW DO I FIND OUT IF THEY’RE LICENSED?The simplest way to find out if a contractor is licensed is to ask. In fact, if acontractor is licensed, he or she will likely be very pleased that you asked andjust as pleased to furnish you with their license number.License numbers are proudly displayed on websites, paid advertisements,business cards, invoices and other correspondence, and painted prominently onthe sides and rear of every company vehicle.Unlicensed contractors will attempt to shrug off your question, telling you theyare licensed but haven’t got their license number with them, claiming thatthey’re authorized to operate under someone else’s license, or use a similarexcuse or delaying tactic.When pressed, they may admit to not having a license and tell you the reason isto offer you, the consumer, lower prices than any licensed contractor willprovide.They may also furnish you with an expired or fake license number.This is one reason why www.LicenseCheck.com provides you the capability toquickly and accurately search for your contractor by name or license number toverify whether or not they are in fact currently licensed in their purportedprofession.It is very important before hiring any professional requiring a license todetermine that they hold a valid license and that they are also fully insured. Askfor their insurance information and verify it.
  6. 6. Chapter Three HOME IMPROVEMENT AND CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTORSMyriad professions come under the umbrella of home improvement andconstruction contractors, from builders, electricians and plumbers (includingsewer/septic specialists) to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)specialists, architects, roofers, landscape architects and more.Nowhere, arguably, have there been more reports in the news about the perils ofusing unlicensed contractors than in the realm of construction and homeimprovement.Fraud abounds and unethical professionals prey on the weak, the unsuspecting,the elderly, the disabled, those for whom English is a second language (or do notspeak it at all) and especially those in neighborhoods or regions which haverecently suffered from major widespread disasters such as hurricanes,tornadoes, floods and wildfires.In November 2010, Ben Jones, an unlicensed builder in Tampa, Florida, wasarrested when he defrauded a homeowner of nearly $20,000 who had hiredJones to build an addition to his house. The homeowner reported Jones to policewhen Jones failed to return and finish the job. Jones was released after posting$4,000 bail on felony counts of working as an unlicensed contractor. At the time,he was already serving one year of probation for a similar charge. If he hadapplied for a license, this would have been uncovered in the background checkand the license application denied.Although licensed professionals certainly advertise their services, they do nottypically go door to door soliciting work. Much has been made of the purportedprofessional who rings your doorbell to say that he’s working nearby and,because you’re in the neighborhood, he can give you an added discount if youhire him today. Or one who claims he’s stopped because he’s spotted potentialhazards on your property.If you fear it’s rude to just close the door in their faces, consider thanking them,asking for their business card, license number, insurance information and officeaddress and assure them that you’ll be happy to give them a call for a quote afteryou’ve checked their information. The odds are they’ll beat a hasty retreat.Whatever you do, never invite them into your home!The unfortunate reality is that you can also be an innocent victim of the risksassociated with employing unlicensed contractors. This is why it is imperative
  7. 7. that unlicensed contractors be caught and prevented from operating in yourcommunity!One Florida evening, in October 1998, 12-year-old Jorgie Cabrera Jr. was walkingto his father’s house when a severe thunderstorm with heavy rain erupted. Jorgiespotted an illuminated bus shelter nearby and ran for shelter. He never made ithome that night. Jorgie’s family began searching for him when he didn’t arrive asexpected. He was found dead the next morning, face down, badly charred andcrawling with ants.Victor Garcia and his employer, Eller Media, were brought up on criminalnegligence charges. Eller Media had been contracted to wire the public bus stopshelter in order to make it safer. Instead, their work made it deadly. Eller Media’shead electrician, Garcia, who was unlicensed, was dispatched to wire the lighting.Garcia admitted at trial that he had never possessed a license to work in Floridaas an electrician, despite being employed as head electrician by Eller Media.Prosecutors claimed Jorge was electrocuted because Garcia had installed asubstandard transformer and that he had cut the grounding rods too short whichfailed to ground the bus shelter. A lightning strike in that area had been reported.The subsequent civil trial seven years after the incident resulted in an award of$65.1 million in punitive and compensatory damages to the father of the deadboy because Eller Media was found guilty of hiring unlicensed electricians andfailing to supervise them.Although you can’t safeguard against such accidents and negligence byunlicensed contractors hired by other parties, you can be sure that theprofessional you hire is in fact licensed to perform his professional duties in thestate in which you reside. Don’t hesitate. Make sure he or she is legitimatelylicensed by visiting www.LicenseCheck.com today.
  8. 8. Chapter Four MEDICAL AND DENTAL LICENSED PROFESSIONSAs surprising as it may first seem, there have been many horror stories reportedof medical and dental professionals working without licenses. Some have beenpreviously licensed in foreign countries but were unable to procure a license inthe United States. Others have had their US licenses revoked or suspended forprofessional misconduct. Some have never been licensed. Some have never evenbeen trained.When you stop and think about it, have you ever actually asked your doctor,dentist or surgeon whether they’re licensed, board certified or otherwise legallypermitted to work as a health care professional? Probably not!Few professions seem to require an immediate proffering of trust as the medicalprofession does on the part of the patient. Inquiring about licensing seemsinsulting to the point that most of us would fear the reaction and disbelief if wedared ask such a thing, and would not want to face the resulting embarrassment.Again, as pointed out in Chapter Two, a real professional will never be insultedby your asking politely to see their credentials. Only an unlicensed practitionerwill find your query problematic and try to avoid having to give you thatinformation. Professionally licensed doctors and dentists are as concerned asyou are that there are unlicensed individuals putting you at risk by practicingmedicine, dentistry and other health-related care.When you put yourself in the hands of an unlicensed healthcare worker, thinkback to the days of such horrors as backstreet abortion providers whosometimes used unsterilized kitchen implements in unsanitary conditions andleft behind a trail of permanently damaged victims, some not to survive. Is thisreally the chance you want to take with your own and your family’s health care?Your life?In 2010 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a lawsuit was filed against Floyd C. HeckJr. and his business, J & K Dental Lab after he’d already been ordered to stopdoing unlicensed dental work based on accusations he had been manufacturing,selling and fitting dentures without proper licensing and registration from theState Board of Dentistry and Department of Health.Heck was also accused of performing dental procedures in “filthy” conditions,according to one health inspection report by the Department of Health earlierthat year. Complaints of painful, ill-fitting or downright unusable dentures aswell as dentures that had been paid for and never received is what alertedauthorities.
  9. 9. Heck allegedly never wore gloves or washed his hands prior to treating patients,even purportedly after using the bathroom. Would you want his hands in yourmouth?What’s really disturbing is the number of patients who willingly patronize theseunlicensed professionals in order to save a few dollars, often for procedures thataren’t even medically necessary.In April 2011, Las Vegas resident Elena Caro, who was just 42 years old,underwent a cosmetic procedure to enhance her buttocks, family said. Accordingto reports, Caro’s daughter had dropped her off at a two-room office at the rearof a floor tile store. The daughter watched as her mother received an initialinjection, then left after being told to return several hours later. When shereturned, there was no sign of her mother or the two Columbian nationals,husband and wife Ruben Dario Matallana-Galvas and Carmen Olfidia Torres-Sanchez, who performed the surgery. A 911 call led to the discovery of Caro whohad been unceremoniously dumped several miles from the tile store, sufferingtremendous pain and pleading with passersby to call for an ambulance. Caro diedlater that night from her botched surgery and police arrested the twoColumbians for murder as they were attempting to board a plane back toColumbia that same evening.In another horrific account, a Brazilian plastic surgeon, unlicensed to practice inthe US, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in2008. He was responsible for the death two years earlier of 24-year-old FabiolaDePaula, who died during a bungled liposuction procedure.The unlicensed surgeon, Luiz Carlos Ribeiro, was a formerly licensed physician inBrazil and, along with his wife who operated as an unlicensed nurse, had beenoperating an underground plastic surgery practice for three years inMassachusetts, serving the area’s large Brazilian immigrant population. Thevictim, DePaula, was also Brazilian. She died three days after her operation dueto post-surgical complications, including pulmonary (fat) emboli in her lungs.Ribeiro was sentenced to up to three years imprisonment and deportation afterserving his sentence. His wife was deported after serving a one year sentence.Ironically, just two days before Ribeiro performed this fatal procedure, he hadtaped an interview with a local Brazilian community leader warning Brazilianimmigrants of the dangers of seeking medical care from unlicensed,unauthorized physicians, and counseling them on the risks and precautions ofcosmetic surgeries.Clearly, Ribeiro had convinced his patients he was licensed to practice medicine,capitalizing on their trust in him as a physician. He violated that trust.Don’t let yourself be violated. Ask to see your physician or dentist’s accreditationand medical license. Check them out first at www.LicenseCheck.com before it’stoo late.
  10. 10. Chapter Five LICENSED VETERINARY FACILITIESStatistics show that Americans love their pets. They have indulged in extensivepet care and all manner of lavish diet and accommodations to demonstrate thelove they bear for these domestic creatures. Pet insurance has become bigbusiness, and veterinary care, including preventive procedures, is encouragedand embraced with enthusiasm.When you take your beloved pet to a veterinary center, you want them to betreated with the same care and concern that you feel. But did you ever stop towonder if the person on the other side of that examination table was actuallylicensed and trained?Probably not. As with doctors and dentists, we automatically extend anextraordinary level of trust to those donning white lab coats.Even at veterinary centers, unsuspecting victims have been conned and theirpets subjected to careless treatment by untrained individuals who are frauds.In Fort Myers, Florida, in 2010, husband and wife team Amy and Larry Gentschwere arrested, facing up to ten years imprisonment apiece on charges that AmyGentsch, a licensed veterinarian, had permitted her husband to practiceveterinary medicine without a license.Pet owners claimed that Larry Gentsch would regularly appear dressed in scrubswith a stethoscope around his neck and customarily administered injectionsincluding vaccines, drew blood samples and performed other medicalprocedures in front of the pet owners. Several dogs were later put to sleepstemming from either complications of procedures Gentsch provided or fromsubstantially diminished quality of life afterwards, the distressed ownersclaimed.As it turned out, Larry Gentsch’s actual training was in air conditioning, however,in 2000, he was arrested for secretly selling his employer’s air conditioning unitsunder a fictitious company name and keeping the cash for himself. Two yearslater, he pled no contest to five counts of grand larceny and one of petty larcenyand sentenced to a year in jail.One complainant stated that, when she brought her Chihuahua in for avaccination, Larry Gentsch informed her he needed to draw blood as well. Shesaid he stuck the dog three times, once going right through the skin and out the
  11. 11. other side at which point he stuck his own finger. According to the pet owner,Gentsch’s finger began to bleed, requiring attention.Don’t subject your pet to such traumatic experiences. Visit us atwww.LicenseCheck.com and make sure that your veterinary practitioners areactually licensed and capable of safely and properly performing all appropriateprocedures to ensure the health and safety of your beloved animal.
  12. 12. Chapter Six COSMETIC SURGERY AND PERSONAL CARE LICENSED PROFESSIONALSBeauty is big business in the United States and Americans spend billions ofdollars in salons each year. In 2009 alone, more than 2,400 complaints were filedwith the Better Business Bureau ranging from horrendous haircuts to actualphysical injury.The problem extends not just to unlicensed stylists but even unlicensed salons,particularly manicure outlets, where sanitary conditions are questionable at bestand stylists are not always properly trained to administer the chemicals they useon their clients.One news story reported on the patron of a Miami salon who requested hairextensions. Unbeknownst to her, the stylist was not licensed. When she emergedfrom beneath the hair dryer, she had multiple chemical burns on her scalp, earsand neck. The stylist had used some form of superglue instead of the customaryhair bonding solution. In addition, the client’s hair turned bright orange. She wasdevastated. She later sued the salon and was awarded damages.On a far more serious note, an unlicensed hairstylist, Martha Vasquez,administered phony Botox injections to a Salinas, California client whosubsequently died.A San Jose, California couple were arrested and charged for having performedplastic surgery without a license, botching at least nine procedures in the kitchenof their home, where investigators later described as being dirty even by non-medical standards. The couple performed these surgeries allegedly withstandard kitchen utensils, including liposuction, tummy tucks and even breastenhancement.Yet another licensed practitioner was arrested in 2004, this time in Miami, foradministering face plumping injections. Instead of using medical grade filler, sheinjected industrial grade silicone, the kind used to lubricate industrialmachinery. In addition, she was sealing the incisions with Krazy Glue®.If you are offered a beauty treatment or cosmetic surgery at a price that seemsjust too good to say no to, well, that probably means you should say no.Here at www.LicenseCheck.com, we believe that personal health is too importantto risk putting yourself in the hands of an unlicensed, untrained technician. Don’t
  13. 13. risk your own personal safety. Check to see if your technician is licensed byvisiting www.LicenseCheck.com.
  14. 14. Chapter Seven CHILD AND DAY CARE FACILITIESOver the years, many stories have been told, trials held, sentences pronouncedand childcare facilities shut down due to unlicensed facilities and day careemployees who range from the incompetent or negligent to the physically andsexually abusive. And yet the stories continue as we persist in placing ourchildren in the care of untrained caretakers, perhaps more concerned withconvenience than caution.Why would you entrust your precious child to the care of someone who isuntrained, unlicensed, unsupervised and even potentially dangerous?A competent facility will do comprehensive background checks on all itsemployees in order to weed out pedophiles and other predators, or individualswith a history of abusive behavior.It is important to review not only the license of the daycare facility but to askabout every staff member and what the qualifications and training history are ofeach employee. As always, a reputable care center will welcome your questionsand be happy to show you proof of the licensing of all their employees and verifywhat background checks have been performed.In 2010, in Williamson County, Texas, a judge handed down a 20-year sentenceto Scott Hudson, husband of a woman operating an unlicensed daycare center inher home, for submerging a three-year-old boy’s hands under hot water, whichresulted in third degree burns. The owner, Jennifer Hudson, allegedly called thechild’s mother and suggested she should come and collect him, with no clue as tothe urgency of the situation. The three-year-old boy, Jared, spent 11 days in theintensive care unit of their local hospital and his hands are permanently scarred.The child’s mother admitted she’d found the daycare provider on Craigslist andnever checked to see if they were licensed.Convenience should never trump safety. If you need to find a local daycarecenter, check carefully to determine whether they are licensed and their staff hasbeen subjected to background checks. Here at www.LicenseCheck.com we cantell you if your daycare center is a licensed facility or not.It pays to be careful.
  15. 15. Chapter Eight YOU NEED A LICENSE TO PRACTICE LAWAnyone wishing to practice law must first obtain a legal state license to practicelaw. It’s that simple. The license represents the fact that this legal practitionerhas graduated from an accredited law school and has passed the bar in the statein which he or she chooses to practice. Some attorneys are legally licensed topractice in several states, and may have offices operating in more than one state.Whether an attorney is licensed or not is something most of us have not givenmuch thought to, if you’re like the majority of citizens. Attorneys are like doctors— you don’t spend much time thinking about them until you’re pressed intoneeding one. And at that point, you often don’t have the luxury of time to startdoing your homework. You place your trust immediately in the fact that, if theypurport themselves to be a lawyer then surely they must be a legitimate lawyerin order to stay in business, right? Wrong.For 10 years, Howard Kieffer, a Minnesota resident, touted himself as a lawyerand in fact represented clients in federal court in no fewer than 10 states,defending many up on charges as serious as murder. The Associated Pressreported that one of Kieffer’s clients was a Colorado woman who wassubsequently “convicted of soliciting the murder of her former husband,” and “aformer St. Louis Blues hockey player who pleaded guilty to plotting to kill hisagent.”Kieffer was well respected and considered to be an authority on sentencing lawsand federal prisons. He has even been quoted on several occasions in majornewspapers and news websites. But that was prior to authorities discoveringthat, although he may have practiced as a lawyer in 10 states, he wasn’t legallylicensed to practice in any of them!As the Duluth News Tribune pointed out, no one disputes his expertise onprisons—apparently he’s an ex-convict who had previously been convicted oftheft and the deliberate filing of false tax returns and sentenced to five years. Butthat wasn’t all of it.When convicted, the judge iterated Kieffer’s 30-year criminal history beginningwhen he was 20 years old — convictions for mail theft of $20,000 worth ofchecks; writing bad checks; driving under the influence; grand theft by misusinghis employer’s credit cards; and fraud when he generated a phony deed for thehouse of a deceased woman and used it as collateral for loans. Based on thishistory, the federal judge hearing the case said she did not feel the sentencingguidelines were sufficient and hit him with a significantly longer prison term.
  16. 16. Federal court’s a bit different when you’re sitting in the defendant’s seat.What does this mean for you? Well, in some instances, what was first consideredto be privileged communication between lawyer and client has sometimes beensubsequently ruled to be “unprivileged” as no lawyer existed. Although it’s anarguable point based on the client’s assumption of privilege, do you really wantto take that chance? Your case should not be compromised because what youthought was a licensed attorney was in fact a charlatan defrauding you. Anunlicensed lawyer can cause you real pain and suffering and you’ll have little orno recourse. It pays to ensure your attorney is licensed.In Wisconsin, a man who impersonated a lawyer was convicted and sentenced tonearly three years in prison. Apparently Thomas J. Lyon was not only operating aphony lawyer’s office, but also simultaneously using it to run a prostitution ring.At the time, he was already on parole in New York after he stole nearly $20,000from a hotel in New York State.In this particular case, Lyon had appropriated the license number of a legitimatelawyer, Thomas Lyons, who possessed a license to practice law in Wisconsin andwas currently residing and legally practicing in Minnesota, unaware of thedeception.Thus, it’s important to not only verify that your attorney has a legitimate licensenumber but to be sure that it actually belongs to them, that the contactinformation matches that of your attorney. Here at www.LicenseCheck.com wecan do that for you.Unlicensed lawyers and legal agencies are also known to prey on the innocent.Much like what you learned in chapter three about unlicensed homeimprovement contractors who actively solicit door to door, particularly in areasthat have been recently ravaged by natural disasters, this is also true ofunlicensed legal agencies.These agencies take unscrupulous advantage of a sudden loss of loved ones,homes, assets and the confusion that inevitably results, by approaching you to“help” you resolve your circumstances.Just days after the massive April 2011 tornado devastation in Alabama, a groupcalling itself the Unified Claims Adjusters LLC began offering to make storm-related claims on behalf of homeowners for a 10 percent contingency fee whichhomeowners had to guarantee in writing.However, the practice of gathering the facts of each claim, valuing them andnegotiating on the homeowners’ behalf is the equivalent to practicing law inAlabama. As Unified Claims Adjusters LLC was unlicensed, this was illegal. And,in fact what Unified Claims Adjusters LLC was charging hundreds of dollars forcould have just as easily been accomplished online or by phone with FEMAdirectly, in about 20 minutes. FEMA’s cost? Free.
  17. 17. Don’t let an unlicensed lawyer or legal agency take advantage of you. Always usea legally licensed attorney or agency to protect your interests. Check outwww.LicenseCheck.com today to make sure your lawyer is currently licensed topractice in your state.
  18. 18. Chapter Nine IS YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT LICENSED?And does it really matter? Yes, it does.State departments governing real estate aggressively investigate any and allcomplaints against not just unlicensed real estate persons but also licensed realestate professionals. In some states, practicing real estate without a license is afelony.Typically, you must possess a real estate license if you engage in the followingwithout possessing a personal interest in the property in question: advertising,buying, exchanging, negotiating a purchase or sale, procurement of buyersand/or sellers, property appraisal, and leasing/renting.When you work with a licensed real estate professional, they are subject to thestandard code of ethics of their state in order to protect you, the consumer.If you are a seller, you are entrusting the agent with the key and access to yourpersonal property. Licensed real estate agents install lockboxes on the propertythat provide a lockbox record of all the comings and goings of users. If you areselling directly instead of using a listing agent, you are vulnerable to any strangerwho walks in off the street and professes to have an interest in purchasing yourhome.If you are the buyer, you are entrusting the agent to protect your interestsagainst unscrupulous sellers who might try to shop your offer in order to createan auction environment, something that is illegal in most states. In addition, alicensed real estate agent is required to ensure that basic representations such assquare footage are reasonably accurate. What is to keep a dishonest seller fromclaiming that a 3000-square-foot house is actually 4,000 square feet? Are you,the buyer, going to measure each and every room? Probably not. But the licensedlisting agent will. Otherwise it’s often a buyer beware situation, leaving you withlittle or no recourse after the sale closes.When it comes time to make a good faith deposit and you are using an unlicensedagent or dealing with the seller directly, you may be pressed into having thedeposit held either directly by the seller or the seller’s attorney. If problems laterarise where you want to reclaim your deposit, the seller can refuse or instructthe attorney to withhold the release of your moneys, which means you will beforced to incur added legal costs in order to sue for the return of your deposit.
  19. 19. Sellers often don’t realize their legal liability to disclose previous repair historyor problems that exist with the property and may think it’s perfectly acceptableto patch over that crack in the foundation and not mention it. Surely they don’tneed to tell you the basement floods periodically if there’s no apparent damageand you can’t figure that out yourself, right? Wrong.Equally, a seller must inform buyers of any past criminal activity that occurred inthe house. If you found out after the sale when chatting with a neighbor that aprevious owner had been murdered inside your new home or some other violentcrime had been committed on the premises, would you feel the same way aboutliving there? You might. But you might not. A legally licensed real estate agentwill ensure that sellers make all the necessary disclosures when selling theirhouse.As a prospective buyer, using a licensed real estate agent (and licensed realestate attorney if your state requires it) means that you will sign a contract thatdoes not provide any loopholes for the seller to back out before the closing datesimply because the seller has received a slightly higher offer from someone else.Legally licensed real estate brokerages use standard real estate contractsdesigned to protect both buyer and seller without bias.These are just a few of the reasons that both buyers and sellers should uselicensed real estate brokers and agents when buying or selling a property.If you’re not sure if your agent is licensed, or want to be certain that the license isstill current, visit us at www.LicenseCheck.com. Be confident in knowing thatyour real estate professional is, in fact, licensed for business. Protect yourinterests now.
  20. 20. Chapter Ten EPILOGUEBy now, there should be no doubt in your mind that ensuring that theprofessional you use to represent you, to care for yourself, your loved ones andyour home, is licensed to practice what you pay them to do is of paramountimportance.Before you sign on the dotted line and especially before you hand over that initialadvance payment, make sure the person you’re dealing with is legally licensed sothat you have assurances that they are required to operate in a straightforwardand honest manner and that a criminal past is not lurking in their background.Ask for their contractor, medical, dental or other professional license numberand verify that it belongs to them.LicenseCheck.com is always here when you need to confirm that your contractoris licensed.Beware. Be safe. Be sure. At www.LicenseCheck.com we give you that peace ofmind.
  21. 21. LICENSED PROFESSIONSWhile by no means exhaustive, this is a guide to many of the types of professionslikely to require a license in the state in which you live.Acupuncturists Nursing Home AdministratorsArchitects Occupational TherapistsAthletic Trainers OptometristsBarbers Orthotists, Prosthetists, PedorthistsBarber and Cosmetology Salons/Shops Perfusionists (medical technician)Child/Daycare Facilities Pharmacists/PharmaciesChiropractors Pharmacy TechniciansCollection Agencies Physical TherapistsControlled Substances Physicians and SurgeonsCosmetologists Physician AssistantsDentists/Dental Hygienists Podiatric PhysiciansDietitian Nutritionists Private Alarm Contractors/AgenciesElectrologists (electrolysis technicians) Private Detectives/AgenciesEnvironmental Health Practitioners Private Security ContractorsEstheticians Private Security AgenciesFuneral Directors and Embalmers Professional BoxingGeologists Professional CounselorsHome Medical Equipment and Service Provider Professional EngineersHumane Euthanasia Technicians Professional Service CorporationsInterior Designers Psychologists (Clinical)Land Surveyors Public AccountantsLandscape Architects Respiratory Care PractitionersLocksmiths & Agencies Roofing ContractorsMail Order Ophthalmic Providers Shorthand ReportersMarriage and Family Therapists Social WorkersMassage Therapists PathologistsMedical Corporations Speech-Language AudiologistsNail Technicians Structural EngineersNaprapaths Veterinarians/Vet TechniciansNurses (LPN, RN, APN) Wholesale Drug Distributors

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