It can be hard for a person starting over in life to earn a living — especially if he or she is reentering society from prison. That’s one reason why many reentrants decide to use the trade skills they’ve learned to go into business for themselves.
But local consumer protection agencies have told the FTC about scammers who lie about being able to help people get professional or business licenses to start barbershops, hair salons, auto repair shops and other businesses. These con artists contact people in different ways and some say they issue licenses themselves. Many reentrants don’t believe they will ever get a business license through the usual channels. That makes them vulnerable to scams.
Some reentrants may find themselves frustrated by occupational licensing regulations that don’t make sense. Maybe their trade is licensed in some states, but not others. That’s confusing.
If you’re looking to get a professional or business license, here are three things you should do before you pay anyone money:
If you spot a situation where professional licensing doesn’t make sense, let us know. Sometimes, excessive occupational licensing is an unnecessary barrier to jobs, entrepreneurship, and economic opportunity – and doesn’t really protect public health and safety. The FTC’s Economic Liberty Task Force is studying these issues, and would love to hear your story.
For more information on scams targeting entrepreneurs, go to FTC.gov/SmallBusiness. For more information relevant to reentrants, visit FTC.gov/reentry. And if you know about a business scam, tell the FTC online or at 1-877-FTC-HELP.