State Contractors Board Warns Consumers about Unlicensed Contractors Following Undercover Sting Operation In Fresno
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is warning consumers about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors following a successful sting operation in Fresno. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) in cooperation with the Fresno County District Attorney's Office and the Fresno Police Department conducted the undercover operation. The sting underscores the fact that illegal contractors are operating in the Fresno area.
SWIFT investigators stung a total of 7 unlicensed contractors in yesterday's undercover operation. Some of the phony contractors had asked for illegally large down payments. One even asked for the entire payment in advance, in cash. Another offered to perform work with a license that expired in 2002.
The SWIFT undercover operatives invited suspected unlicensed contractors to a secret sting location. When they bid on jobs -- ranging from concrete work to building an arbor, and were found to be unlicensed 5 were issued Notices to Appear (NTA) in Fresno County Superior Court. One non-licensee received an administrative citation. One was given a non-licensee warning. Those who received NTAs could face a maximum of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for a first offense.
The objective of these stings, which are conducted around the State, is to level the playing field for licensed contractors competing in the local business area, and to protect consumers from fraud and scam artists. By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. Because of their non-compliance with the workers compensation guidelines, unlicensed contractors often submit lower bids on jobs. If a worker is injured on the job, the homeowner could be deemed liable.
The CSLB urges consumers to verify a contractor's license status 24 hours a day using the CSLB's website www.cslb.ca.gov or through our toll-free automated telephone system at (800) 321-CSLB (2752). They can also download or order helpful publications, such as "What You Should Know Before You Hire A Contractor", free of charge.
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 more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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