About RICO

Aloha and welcome to RICO’s website!

As our name implies, RICO is the watchdog for service providers in industries and occupations that are regulated by a professional or vocational licensing board within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  The industries and occupations are regulated because the service they provide impacts the health, safety, or welfare of Hawaii’s consumers.

RICO cannot take enforcement action in every case, but it receives complaints and reports that are screened and investigated and may result in informal dispositions such as educational contacts that are designed to help people and businesses with operating legitimately.  If a professional or vocational license is required by law to do certain industry-specific work, RICO can cite or sue a person who performs the work without being licensed.  RICO can also seek disciplinary action and sanctions against legitimate licensees too if their conduct falls below professional or regulatory standards.

RICO administers the State Certified Arbitration Program (SCAP), which is more commonly known as the “Lemon Law Program.”  Lemon law cases are warranty claims that consumers file against car manufacturers for allegedly serious defects with their newly-purchased cars.  RICO has strived to make the SCAP process less intimidating and more convenient by, for example, holding hearings remotely to accommodate all parties involved. Information about SCAP, including an illustrative video, is available on the site.

Educational information and resources are available here too so that consumers can make more informed decisions about the person or business they are thinking of hiring in a regulated-industry. RICO hopes that the same information will discourage unlicensed work and motivate interested and skilled people to invest in the steps needed to get their own professional or vocational license.  Finally, some of the information on the site can also be used to assist hardworking and legitimate licensees with remaining in compliance with the licensing laws and regulations.

Esther Brown, Complaints and Enforcement Officer