Contractors Board Warns Pines Wildfire Victims Against Hiring Unlicensed Contractors
JULIAN — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) warns Julian-area wildfire victims to use caution when hiring a contractor to clean up damage, repair or rebuild their homes. Unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors often prey on victims of natural disasters. However, consumers can protect themselves by using CSLB's resources to check a contractor's license history. The CSLB issued this warning and provided free materials and information to consumers at the Julian victims claims center this week.
Scam artists who prey on disaster victims often converge on disaster areas and solicit cleanup or rebuilding work from distraught victims. They collect large down payments, perform no work, and then disappear.
"Protect yourself against unscrupulous con artists who will take your money and run or damage your home further. Do your homework and hire only licensed contractors after checking them out with the Board first," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands.
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status and order publications, free of charge, 24 hours a day using the CSLB's web site at www.cslb.ca.gov and toll-free telephone system at (800) 321-CSLB.
Contractors working on any job - from debris removal to rebuilding - that is valued at $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by the CSLB. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, and carry a license bond.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license
- Verify the contractor's license at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- Do not pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Do not pay cash, and do not let the payments get ahead of the work
- Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract
- Contact the CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.
The CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses 278,000 contractors in California and investigates 25,000 complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors every year.
Ten tips to make sure your contractor measures up :
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