Contractors Board Warns Northern California Consumers About Unlicensed Contractors
REDDING — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issued a warning to consumers today about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors. In cooperation with the Shasta County District Attorney's Office, CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducted an undercover sting operation in Redding yesterday. The sting underscored the fact that illegal contractors are operating in this region.
SWIFT investigators cited a total of 17 unlicensed contractors in the undercover sting operation. Some of the phony contractors asked for illegally large down payments.
The SWIFT undercover operatives invited suspected unlicensed contractors to a secret sting location. When they bid on jobs — ranging from painting and paving to fencing and landscaping — and were found to be unlicensed, 15 were issued Notices to Appear (NTA) in Superior Court. Two non-licensees received administrative citations. Those who received NTAs could face a maximum of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for a first offense.
By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. Investigators from the Shasta County District Attorney's Office Consumer Fraud and Workers Compensation Fraud Units were crucial to the sting operation by identifying employers who may be in violation of workers compensation insurance laws.
Because of their non-compliance with the workers compensation guidelines, unlicensed contractors often submit lower bids on jobs. The District Attorney's Workers Compensation Fraud Unit worked proactively to identify and will prosecute illegal contractors. The objective is to achieve a level playing field for licensed contractors competing in the local business area.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license.
- Don't rush into decisions and don't hire the first contractor who comes along.
- Verify the contractor's license by checking on-line at www.cslb.ca.gov.
- Don't pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less.
- Don't pay cash, and don't 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 Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 278,000 contractors, and investigates 25,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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