Licensing  > General Information > How Complaints Are Handled
Facts you should know
when submitting a complaint

The Pennsylvania Department of State Professional Compliance Office receives complaints concerning professionals and organizations under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, which issues notary commissions; the State Athletic Commission, which registers athletic agents; the Bureau of Charitable Organizations; and licensees and registrants of the following 29 professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions regulated by the Department's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs:

Architects Licensure Board
Auctioneer Examiners
Barber Examiners
Certified Real Estate Appraisers
Crane Operators
Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists
Funeral Directors
Landscape Architects
Massage Therapy
Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators
Occupational Therapy Education and Licensure
Osteopathic Medicine
Physical Therapy
Real Estate Commission
Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors
Examiners in Speech - Language and Hearing
Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons
Veterinary Medicine
The Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and its Navigable Tributaries

If you believe the practice or the service provided by a licensee or registrant of the above-named boards or commissions to be unethical, immoral, below an acceptable standard of practice or out of the scope of the profession, you are urged to file a Statement of Complaint Form with the Department of State's Legal Office.


Please note the following guidelines before completing and submitting the Statement of Complaint form:

*The Department will not involve itself in a monetary dispute unless it involves an allegation that services were billed for, but were not rendered -- or if there is evidence of other billing or insurance fraud.

*The Department cannot act as a court of law to impose prison sentences or to order a person to make monetary restitution. This can only be achieved through the services of an attorney in a civil or criminal court proceeding.

*Decisions about whether or not to prosecute cases are constrained by the applicable licensing laws, rules and regulations, which set forth specifically enumerated offenses for which the licensing boards and commissions may impose discipline on a licensee. If offensive conduct or activity does not fit within any specifically enumerated offense, disciplinary action cannot be filed against the licensee because the activity is not within the applicable board or commission's jurisdiction

*If you file a complaint, you may be required to attend a formal hearing and provide testimony in support of your complaint should a decision be made to file formal charges against a licensee.


There are several ways in which to file your complaint:

*You may complete and submit a Statement of Complaint Form online by using the link at the bottom of the this page. Please note that any documents/attachments in support of your complaint must be sent BY MAIL to the Professional Compliance Office, using the instructions included with the online form. (Attachments cannot be sent electronically.)

*You may click here to Download the Statement of Complaint Form (You will need Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to view this form. If you do not have either, then please click on the link in the left hand navigation bar to get a free Adobe Acrobat Reader). Return completed form by mail to the Professional Compliance Office at:Department of State, Professional Compliance Office, PO Box 2649, 2601 North Third Street, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649. Be sure to include any attachments and supporting documents (legible copies, no originals) that you wish to provide in support of your complaint.

*You may request a Statement of Complaint Form by mail, by calling the Professional Compliance Office Hotline at 1-800-822-2113 (if you are calling from within Pennsylvania) or at 1-717-783-4854 (if you are calling from outside Pennsylvania). Return the completed Complaint Form to the Professional Compliance Office at: Department of State, Professional Compliance Office, PO Box 2649, 2601 North Third Street, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649. Be sure to include any attachments and supporting documents (legible copies, no originals) that you wish to provide in support of your complaint.

*If you require special accommodation in downloading or viewing the form, please e-mail us at or call the Complaint's Hotline at the telephone numbers shown below.

Upon receipt of your completed Statement of Complaint Form (and any supporting documentation you wish to submit), the Professional Compliance Office will review the information to ensure that the complaint is within the Department's jurisdiction, and we will send you a written acknowledgment. (See "How Complaints are Handled," below, for more information on the complaint process.) Unfortunately, due to the large number of cases that we process, we are unable to provide regular status reports or updates. You will, however, be notified of the final disposition of your complaint.

How Complaints are Handled -- When a completed Statement of Complaint Form within our jurisdiction is received, a file is opened and forwarded to a legal assistant who reviews it and determines whether or not an investigation is required. In making this determination, the legal assistant may confer with a prosecuting attorney in the Department's Legal Office.

Some complaints contain within themselves all the information that is necessary to determine whether a violation of the licensing law has occurred, and those complaints do not require investigation. Most complaints, however, involve issues of credibility, require that witnesses be interviewed, and/or require that documents, including medical records or contracts, be obtained for review by the Legal Office. Those complaints will be forwarded to the Department's Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation with a request that our investigators obtain the necessary information to enable us to determine whether disciplinary charges should be filed against the licensee against whom the complaint was made. Investigations can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the complexity of the case.

Once the investigation is complete, the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation forwards the investigation report to the Professional Compliance Office, which sends the matter to a prosecuting attorney for review and determination as to whether or not formal disciplinary charges should be filed. If there is not enough evidence to warrant the filing of a disciplinary action, the case is closed. The prosecuting attorney sends a letter to the Complainant notifying the Complainant of that action.

If the evidence supports the filing of formal disciplinary charges against the licensee, the prosecuting attorney initiates the action by preparing an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause sets forth allegations and directs the licensee (Respondent) to file a written Answer to those allegations within 30 days.

After the Respondent files an Answer, the matter is generally scheduled for hearing. If the matter is scheduled for hearing, the case is heard and a decision, known as an Adjudication and Order, is rendered, usually within six (6) months after the evidentiary record has been closed.  If the Respondent is unhappy with the outcome, he or she may appeal the decision to Commonwealth Court.

Some matters are amenable to settlement by means of a legal document known as a Consent Agreement and Order. Either party, the Commonwealth or the Respondent, may approach the other about a possible settlement. In reaching a settlement, the parties negotiate the facts to which they will agree for the purposes of settlement and also negotiate an agreed-upon penalty that they believe will be acceptable to the applicable licensing board or commission. All Consent Agreements and Orders must be presented to and approved by the applicable licensing board or commission in order to become final.

Final Adjudications and Orders and board-approved Consent Agreements and Orders generally represent disciplinary action of some sort against a licensee or an unlicensed individual. All disciplinary actions become a permanent part of the licensee's record on file with the respective board or commission. Disciplinary actions are a matter of public record and are subject to release by the Department of State's Office of Communications and Press to various news agencies in the Commonwealth.

Online Complaint forms

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of State
Professional Compliance Office
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
Toll-free Complaint's Hotline: 1-800-822-2113 (Pa. only)
717-783-4849 (outside Pa.)





Modified Date: 08/23/2010 08:49 AM