State Agency Warns Wildfire Victims Against Hiring Unlicensed Contractors
FALLBROOK — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) warns Fallbrook wildfire victims to use caution when hiring a contractor to 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.
"Don't let a natural disaster result in a man-made one by hiring the first contractor who comes along. Take your time and protect yourself against con artists who will take your money and damage your home. Hire only licensed contractors and check them out with the Board," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands.
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status, 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. Free consumer publications are also available from the CSLB.
Contractors working on any job totaling $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 payments get ahead of the work
- Get three bids, check references, and get a detailed, 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.
What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor:
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