DCA WELCOMES A NEW DIRECTOR

Dean Grafilo has been appointed by Governor Brown to serve as director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), effective March 20.

This is somewhat of a homecoming for Dean as he served as a commissioner on DCA’s California State Athletic Commission prior to accepting his most recent post with the Office of California State Assembly member Rob Bonta, where he served as chief of staff since 2012.

Mr. Grafilo’s long career in state government will be a welcomed asset as he guides DCA forward.

On behalf of everyone at DCA, welcome Director Grafilo!

DCA’s Leadership Team

 

BPELSG Celebrates National Surveyors Week March 19 – 25, 2017

What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln have in common besides having the distinction of being Presidents of the United States?

Photo Credit: National Park Service

All three worked as land surveyors before their political careers began.  This is why Mount Rushmore National Memorial is commonly referred to as “Three surveyors and the other guy.”

Surveying was not a bad skill for a future president to possess because as the early United States continued to take form, the development of boundaries was essential to the growth and expansion of the nation.  Anyone interested in claiming rights to physical property, land specifically, depended on the skills of a surveyor.

Fast-forward to present day.  If you’ve ever used a physical map or relied on GPS for assistance in finding anything, whether traveling by land, air or sea, then you have a surveyor to thank.

The National Society of Professional Surveyors has designated the week of March 19-25, 2017 as National Surveyors Week. 

This week recognizes industry professionals and increases awareness with the public, students and future surveyors about this centuries-old profession.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, licenses professional land surveyors.

Surveyor specialties vary from hydrographic surveyors, who measure the depth and bottom configuration of bodies of water, to cartographic surveyors, who use photogrammetry (the science of aerial photographs) for measurements and map production.

The Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, the National Society of Professional Surveyors, and the California land surveying community encourage industry members and partner organizations to use this week-long celebration as an opportunity to engage with their local communities, and promote the array of career opportunities available in the surveying profession.

For more information about surveying and obtaining a license as a professional land surveyor, visit the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists website at www.bpelsg.ca.gov.

 

New Outlook for Preventing Peanut Allergies

shutterstock_348863390Millions of children in the United States suffer from food allergies, and the most common dietary culprit for kids is peanuts. Growing awareness of peanut allergies has led to peanut-free camps, childcare facilities, and schools.

For years, the common belief among experts was that avoiding peanuts altogether was the best solution, but that philosophy has shifted in the wake of recent studies showing children introduced to peanut products (not peanuts themselves, which are a serious choking hazard) at a young age had a sharply lower risk of developing a peanut allergy—up to 80 percent lower.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), after years of recommending that families with any peanut allergy history avoid feeding infants any peanut products when they start on solid food, has changed course. The AAP now advises pregnant women not to avoid any particular food groups in hopes that the exposure will reduce food allergies in children long-term.

The most recent evidence backing the research comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which issued new guidelines for doctors and parents. The guidelines address how to safely expose children to peanuts from an early age, and divide babies into three groups.

The first includes those with severe eczema or are already allergic to eggs—they are considered at high risk of developing a peanut allergy. The NIAID advises these babies be tested for a peanut allergy, and parents should consult their doctor about how and when to introduce peanut products. A doctor should be contacted very early, in the two- to four-month range.

For the other two groups—babies with mild to moderate eczema and those without any known allergies—testing isn’t necessary, although parents should still consult a doctor about their child’s situation. For these babies, the guidelines call for parents to introduce peanut products gradually, in small amounts, beginning at six months.

Parents can check on the status of a doctor’s license at the Medical Board of California’s website (www.mbc.ca.gov).

Was Your Car Repaired After An Accident? Was it Done Right?

For safety’s sake, DCA’s Auto Body Inspection Program will find out

After you’ve had some types of repair work done on your car, it’s pretty hard for the untrained eye to see if it was all done right, isn’t it? Well, if you’re a California consumer, you can get some assistance by getting a free auto body inspection from experts at the DCA’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

Why have an inspection?

This sport utility vehicle had its door repaired by a California auto body repair shop. Afterward, the owners took it through a car wash and it leaked profusely. BAR inspectors discovered that the seam next to the Post-it note should have been welded together. It leaked where the work had been done and had no structural integrity. The proper weld would have created rigidity necessary to prevent crumpling of the passenger compartment. Another collision could have led to serious injury – or worse – for the occupants.

Because most collision repairs are hidden by the vehicle’s panels, it can be hard to tell if the repairs were performed correctly, or done at all. Undetected deficiencies could reduce the structural integrity of the vehicle and could put the driver and passengers at risk. BAR officials have seen cases where consumers who have had collision repairs done paid for parts they didn’t receive or labor that wasn’t performed. In some cases, the vehicle may be left unsafe. Or, consumers may be set up for further mechanical problems down the road. This quick video shows how one consumer was helped: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCxs4OdA13U

How does the inspection program work?

Call BAR’s toll-free number at (866) 799-3811 to schedule an appointment, and have ready a copy of the auto body repair invoice listing the repairs performed. On the scheduled date, a BAR inspector will come to meet you to inspect your vehicle. The Bureau’s inspectors check your vehicle to determine whether the auto body repairs were performed properly and match the work listed on the invoice. That’s how easy it is, at no cost to you!

If BAR inspectors find no discrepancies, they’ll just document the result. When BAR officials do find problems, they will help get the shop to make corrections. You can also:

  • Have the inspector open a complaint that will be investigated by a BAR field representative.
  • Contact your insurance company for a follow up with BAR.
  • Choose not to pursue the issue.

BAR experts say that most of the time when a problem is found, it’s simply the result of an oversight on the body shop’s part, but the State will take action if it’s believed fraud is involved.


This vehicle is missing a shield in the bumper cover that protects the components behind it—in this case the windshield washer fluid container—from road damage. The shield also directs air back into the engine to assist with cooling. It’s minor, and likely an oversight by the body shop, and the consumer can choose to seek remedy or not.

Although BAR will not inspect mechanical work, the Bureau will still take a complaint about it. Visit www.bar.ca.gov and click on the “Consumer” tab for information on how to file a complaint as well as more details about the Auto Body Inspection Program.

DCA is Here to Help All Year Long

Just because National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) has ended doesn’t mean you aren’t protected. As #NCPW2017 wraps up, DCA wants to remind consumers that our resources and programs are available any time of year. This past week, we’ve shared details on many of them.

An informed consumer is a protected consumer: consider yourself empowered! Learn more at www.dca.ca.gov.

Also, see our complete list of free publications at www.dca.ca.gov/publications/publications_list.shtml, subscribe to our award-winning magazine, Consumer Connection, and follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @DCAnews.

Keeping Track of Your Pets With Microchips and GPS Smart Collars

When dogs or cats go missing–whether they run away or are stolen–it can be devastating for both pet and owner.

According to the National Humane Society, more than 10 million pets are lost each year. Only 26 percent of dogs and less than 5 percent of cats who come into shelters as strays are reunited with their owners.  An even more alarming fact is that 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats in these shelters end up being euthanized.

As a pet owner, even if you haven’t experienced such a loss, there is always the possibility you could.  However, there are also some preventative measures you can take to help keep your pet safe.

While embedding microchips in pets has become an increasingly common procedure for veterinarians and is a good tool for reuniting lost pets with their owners, they’re not foolproof. In order for a microchip to be effective, pet owners must register the chip with the manufacturer. If they don’t, when a pet is brought into an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office and the chip is scanned, no contact information will be associated with the pet and microchip, making it much more difficult to unite the animal with its owner.

GET SMART— The Smart pet collar is the latest innovative technology designed to give pet owners peace of mind. It’s a GPS tracker collar for your pet that works almost like an iPhone. It allows you, via an app on your phone, to not only communicate and send messages to your furry friend, but also monitor and alert you to its whereabouts.

So if Fido or Fluffy wanders too far away from the backyard, a notification is immediately sent to your phone. If the animal does manage to run away, the collar will automatically flash the message “I’m lost” along with your phone number to alert anyone who may come in contact with the animal.

Remember, regardless of how careful you are with your pets, they can still get lost. Providing your pet with a GPS collar as well as a microchip can go a long way to ensure a happy and healthy reunion if ever your pet strays from home.

If you’re planning to microchip your pets, be sure to take them to a licensed veterinarian.  To verify the license of a veterinarian, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board at (916) 515-5220, or visit their website at vmb@dca.ca.gov.

 

State Cannabis Regulators Announce Application Deadline for Advisory Committee

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR) has just announced the deadline of March 17, 2017, for submitting Cannabis Advisory Committee applications.

This committee will advise the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation and the other two licensing authorities—the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety—on the development of cannabis regulations that protect public health and safety, while ensuring a regulated market that helps reduce the illicit market for cannabis.

Committee members will be selected by and will serve at the pleasure of the director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The committee will consist of representatives from diverse backgrounds, including the cannabis industry, labor, state and local agencies, public health experts, representatives from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control who have expertise in regulating intoxicating substances for adult use, individuals with expertise in the medicinal properties of cannabis, and representatives from communities who have been disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policy, among others.

Those interested in serving on the committee can access the online application here: bmcr.ca.gov/about_us/documents/commitee_application.pdf

For additional information about BMCR or to subscribe to their email alerts, visit the BMCR website: bmcr.ca.gov/

DCA’s Umbrella Has You Covered

National Consumer Protection Week spotlights free resources, programs to help consumers

ncpw-social1

Consumers: Do you feel empowered? You will after this week!

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is proud to be a partner during the 19th annual National Consumer Protection Week (#NCPW2017), a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. This year, it runs from March 5 through 11, so stay tuned to this blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for great tips all week!

Here are some of the ways DCA helps:

Licensing for protection

We all know someone who’s had a bad experience with an unlicensed or unscrupulous contractor who does sloppy work, lacks proper insurance or takes money upfront and disappears or leaves the job incomplete. That’s why you’ve heard our mantra “check the license” repeatedly, because this is one way consumers can help protect themselves from frauds, scams and financial harm. Licensing tells you that the person you are dealing with has met certain qualifications and levels of competency and offers a remedy if a service is not delivered or work is not acceptable. Through its boards, bureaus, committees and other entities, DCA regulates many industries and the people licensed to work in them.

Check a license or file a complaint against a licensee by calling our Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210, or visit www.dca.ca.gov.

Consumer education, enforcement and special programs

Through award-winning consumer publications, social media, blogs, Senior Scam StopperSM events from the Contractors State License Board and other special programs like the Auto Body Inspection Program from the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Veterans Come First Program from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, DCA staff educates consumers by giving them the information they need to avoid unscrupulous or unqualified people who promote deceptive or unsafe services.

DCA also advocates consumer interests before lawmakers and enforces consumer laws. Our enforcement staff works with the California Attorney General’s Office and local district attorneys to fight fraud in the marketplace. In fact, many investigations are initiated by consumer complaints. If DCA determines wrongdoing, it can place licensees on probation, or suspend or revoke licenses.

Dispute resolution

When a dispute arises between a customer and a business in certain industries under DCA’s jurisdiction, alternative methods are available for resolving complaints without going to court in which the involved parties can work out a solution with the help of a mediator.

Who we are what we do

Learn more on our website at www.dca.ca.gov or get our publication titled, Who We Are & What We Do. For a free printed copy, call the DCA Publications Hotline at (866) 320-8652. Find more consumer resources at https://oag.ca.gov/, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/, www.ncpw.gov and #NCPW2017.

Dream Big During National Engineers Week February 19-25, 2017

engineers-week-logo

Have you ever taken a moment to stop and think about the many ways engineering is relevant to your life?  Engineers Dream Big and their dreams become our reality.

The field of engineering has helped to shape our world on a daily basis and it affects how we live, work and play by making our lives comfortable, interesting and even fun.

National Engineers Week is February 19 – 25, 2017, and acknowledges the contributions of engineers nationwide.  Engineers Week is now referred to as EWeek and was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951.  EWeek was developed to foster interest in the countless ways that the field of engineering helps shape our world.

national-engineers-week

The theme for 2017 is “Dream Big” and it is designed to raise awareness of the many ways the industry contributes to our daily lives to foster interest in generations of future engineers.  EWeek encourages industry members and partner organizations to engage with their local communities using suggested programs and exercises to promote the array of career opportunities in engineering and technology disciplines.  EWeek demonstrates that there are opportunities available to all, regardless of sex, ethnic or socio-economic background.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, licenses 20 professional engineering categories ranging from agricultural engineers who help crops grow bigger and stronger, to civil engineers who design the roads and bridges we travel on every day.

Imagination and design are factors that enable engineers to create many of the necessities that we take for granted. The industry is vast and it even influences our entertainment options by designing some of our favorite rides at amusement parks or creating the awesome special effects in television and feature films.  These are but merely a small example of the types of products and services we depend upon that engineers helped develop.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, along with the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists is proud to recognize these professionals for their commitment to improving our lives and the engineering industry.

Learning to Box May Help Knock Out Parkinson’s Disease

Photo Credit - Rock Steady Boxing

Photo Credit – Rock Steady Boxing

Some people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) have discovered an alternate form of therapy to improve their symptoms—boxing!  Not the Ali or Tyson type of boxing—we’re talking about fitness boxing.

Photo Credit - Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal via AP

Photo Credit – Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal via AP

Though not a cure for Parkinson’s, non-combat fitness boxing is being recognized by many in the medical community as an alternate form of rehabilitation for the disease.  According to a case report by the American Physical Therapy Association, patients showed short-term and long-term improvements in balance, gait, activities of daily living, and quality of life after participating in a fitness boxing training program.  As a result, many people with varying stages of PD are looking to
fitness boxing as a means to improve their quality of life while living with the disease.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, PD is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects approximately one million Americans. The disease is characterized most notably by tremors, stiffness, softening or slurring of speech, slowing of movement, and instability.

The theory behind boxing as a form of therapy for PD began when Scott C. Newman, a former Indianapolis attorney, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 40. A few years after his diagnosis, Newman began intense, one-on-one, non-contact boxing workouts at the suggestion of a friend.

“After six weeks of intense boxing training, I could sign my name again. I was getting better,” Newman said during an interview in a December 2016 segment of HBO’s “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.”

Newman says he experienced dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility, and daily functioning from his workout routine and, ultimately, his quality of life improved.

Photo Credit - Sue Cockrell Enterprise photo

Photo Credit – Sue Cockrell Enterprise photo

After experiencing his own positive results, Newman opened the first non-contact boxing gym in 2006 in his home town of Indianapolis, IN, that offered a workout program dedicated to people with PD.

Classes are separated into four levels depending on the patient’s stage of PD.  Patients share a common denominator inside of a supportive environment, which allows them to work on strength, balance and hand/eye coordination.  A combination of classic boxing moves and exercises choreographed to music is used.

Photo Credit - Luther Life Villages

Photo Credit – Luther Life Villages

To help combat the vocal challenges often faced by PD patients, fighters are encouraged to count out exercises aloud with the instructor. The louder they count the better. Cheering and yelling is also encouraged, not only to improve voice activation, but to boost morale and lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety, two symptoms commonly associated with PD.

Nationwide, thousands of PD patients have been introduced to fitness boxing as an option to assist them with managing their disease. Medical experts acknowledge that fitness boxing may not be for everyone and before considering a new exercise regimen, it is best to check with your physician.

To check on your physician’s license status with the Medical Board of California,  click here.