Q&A: Plumbing ads and license numbers

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From the Evansville Courier & Press:

Q: A master plumber called to complain about plumber ads in our service directories. He said state law requires plumbers who run ads to include their license number.

The majority of these ads are handyman ads that list plumbing as one of the services available.

The plumber also said that when we receive a license number for an ad the newspaper is required to check it with the state to see if it is legitimate before running the advertising. Can you advise us on this?

A: State law (IC 25-28.5-1-31) states that individuals who operate as plumbers or advertise as one without a license number could be committing a class A misdemeanor.

Along with that is the requirement that the license number be included in written or printed advertising (IC 25-28.5-1-35).

But the violation of the law rests with the plumber, not the newspaper. So you are not breaking the law if an ad is printed without a license number.

Newspaper ad staffs should try to be aware of the requirement and advise clients of the provision to protect them from accidentally violating it.

Newspapers are not required to double-check license numbers to see if they are valid. The legislature never intended to make newspaper ad staffs enforcement officers of the state.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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