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How to Report Someone Operating Without a Business License

Updated April 17, 2017

Dealing with an untrustworthy business or contractor can lead to a dead end with frustrating results. Of course, paying for services from any business carries a certain amount of risk, but those risks are usually less if the business is operating under proper permits and licenses. A business license gives customers some reassurance that the contractor or company they have chosen to work with is legitimate and trustworthy. If you discover that the business you are dealing with is unlicensed, there are several options you can take to report it.

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  1. Check to see whether the business is truly unlicensed. Enter "Department of Licensing" and your state's name in your search engine. There should be a listing for a government department that regulates and lists licenses and permits. Click on this department, then look for a search option on its web page that allows you to type in the name of the business to see whether it is licensed.

  2. Report an unlicensed business to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Enter the BBB website by clicking on the link at the end of this article. On the upper left corner click on the "For Consumers" option. Click on "File a Complaint." There will be a short questionnaire involving the business you are reporting and your specific complaint.

  3. Report unlicensed contractors using a separate option within the BBB website. Click on the "For Consumers" option. Under "Programs and Services" choose and click on the option titled "Unlicensed Contractors." This will connect you to a page where you can click on "Report Unlicensed Activity Here!" Clicking on this option brings up an e-mail pop-up that allows you to e-mail a complaint to the BBB.

  4. Contact your local Department of Consumer Affairs. Enter "Department of Consumer Affairs" and your state's name on a search engine. An official government website should show up in the listings. Click on this site and follow directions for reporting an unlicensed business or contractor.

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Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Computer

About the Author

Hana Yoo began writing in 2003, while interning for an online film resource. She has written for various ends of the film and television industry from her work and internship experiences. Yoo holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University.

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