FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- uses the DCCA and/or RICO website to research a service provider; and/or
- checks the service provider’s online reviews; and/or
- asks the provider for references and then follows up on the information; and/or
- obtains more than 1 opinion or quote for a job; and/or
- communicates regularly or often with the service provider;
the consumer will never unknowingly hire an unlicensed person nor is the person likely to end up in a dispute with the licensed professional or tradesperson that they hired for the job.
- Money is not required. There is no fee or charge to file a complaint or report unlicensed activity.
- An attorney or representative is not necessary, but one can file a complaint on a person’s behalf.
- Immediacy is encouraged but not required. Consumers can try to resolve the issue or dispute through “Self-Help.”
- Organization helps. Gather, organize and photocopy relevant paperwork such as contracts, emails, photographs, invoices, records of payment, etc., and then include the copies with the complaint.
- A signature is needed. Review carefully and then date and sign the complaint form.
- Include the records authorization for health matters. Sign and include the authorization to release health records form when filing complaints against licensed healthcare providers.
- Confidential & non-confidential information. The information and records provided to support or defend a RICO complaint are not made public unless disclosure is required by law or will aid in RICO’s enforcement. The complainant’s identity, and the allegations and claims they make, are disclosed to the respondent.
- Intake by the Consumer Resource Center. Complaints are screened for jurisdiction and appropriateness by an investigator in the Consumer Resource Center (Center) who is familiar with the licensing laws governing the regulated industries. If the complaint meets the jurisdictional threshold and is appropriate for RICO review, it could be investigated fully by the intake investigator and then referred to the Legal section for review, or referred to the Field section for further handling.
- Field investigations. Complaints that may involve licensing law violations are handled by the Field Section. They review information and gather evidence and may refer matters that involve potential licensing law violations to the Legal Section for further review.
- Legal review and enforcement. Attorneys in the legal section review complaints for possible enforcement action such as discipline in the case of licensees, or the filing of a lawsuit in the case of unlicensed activity.
- The person filing a complaint is the complaining witness and they may be contacted by an investigator to acknowledge receipt of the complaint, to schedule an interview, or to get or clarify information. Complainants may also be called upon to testify if the Legal section prosecutes a licensee or unlicensed person based on the complaint.
Complainants do not determine the course or scope of the investigation, but they will receive status updates.
Complainants are not clients of RICO so the RICO investigators and attorneys do not represent them. RICO represents the interests of the State of Hawaii as a whole by looking out for the health, safety and welfare of all consumers of services offered in a regulated industry.
- Respondents. The person against whom a complaint is filed is the responding party. Respondents are contacted by the RICO investigator and given an opportunity to respond in writing to the allegations that have been made and to produce information and documents in their defense.
Respondents do not determine the course or scope of a RICO investigation, but they will receive status updates.
- Anonymous filers. Persons who file a complaint or report unlicensed activity but choose not to disclose their identity, or decline to be affiliated with a complaint, will not receive updates on the matter.
Even when a complaint makes it past the intake investigator’s screening, many are closed for a variety of good reasons too, including lack of credible evidence to support a violation, lack of jurisdiction, the parties were able to resolve their dispute on their own or through alternative dispute resolution, the complainant chooses to withdraw a matter, the issue has been addressed in a civil lawsuit between the parties, an education contact or warning issued, enforcement action had been taken previously, the complainant or another important witness is no longer cooperating, or the matter was referred to another organization or agency.