AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The number of complaints regarding unlicensed tattoo artists tripled in the last year, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control.
The Maine CDC reports 31 complaints in 2011, up from 13 in 2010.
Some of those compalints were about tattoo parties, or gatherings held in homes where unlicensed tattoo artists operate.
It's a way for minors to get inked, while the artists avoids taxes and regulations -- and it could lead to the spread of infection and disease.
"It could lead to increases in skin infection, and transmission of diseases such as HIV, Hepatitus B, and Hepatitus C," said Maine CDC Program Manager Lisa Roy.
She said it's becoming easier to host and promote tattoo parties because of the Internet.
People can buy the tools online and spread the word on sites such as Facebook and Craiglist.
The trend is sending more people to tattoo parlors to fix botched jobs.
"We've seen work and had to do plenty of cover-ups or re-work from people that have just been totally messed up from stuff that was being done inside of homes," said Ed Sheffer, owner of Diversified Ink in Bangor.
"Is it happening more frequently? Absolutely, I'm sure," he said.
All of his tattoo artists have licenses from the state's Department of Health and Human Services, as is required by law.
Every artist is required to post the license where he or she works.
Check to make sure the expiration date has not passed, and that the address on the license matches the address of the parlor.
The penalty for performing tattoos without a license can be a $50 to $500 fine, or a jail sentence up to six months.
To report a suspected tattoo party or unlicensed artist, call the Maine CDC's hotline at 287-5671.