State Contractors Board Issues Warning about Suspect Posing as Licensed Contractor
Board hopes to identify more victims following suspect's arrest
SACRAMENTO — A man suspected of ripping off at least five homeowners for more than $45,000 in damages was arrested in a sting operation today by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). William Ralph Barrientos was cited earlier on two separate occasions by the CSLB for contracting without a license and illegally using other contractor's names and license numbers without their knowledge.
The sting took place in Elk Grove this morning with help from Elk Grove Police. CSLB investigators posed as new homeowners. Mr. Barrientos was arrested without incident after bidding in excess $500 for a job, which constitutes as contracting without a license. He was also arrested for burglary - which is entering with intent to commit a crime. CSLB investigators are in the process of identifying other potential victims. So far, they have found homeowners in Elk Grove and El Dorado Hills that have had to repair damage caused by shoddy workmanship attributed to Mr. Barrientos.
"Homeowners need to watch out for phony contractors," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "They can do a lot of damage. That is why it is so important to make sure the person hired for home improvement projects has a valid license by checking them out with the Board."
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status 24 hours a day using the CSLB's Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or toll-free automated telephone system at (800) 321-CSLB (2752). They can also report contractors or unlicensed activity to the Board by filling in the online complaint form or by calling the CSLB number to request a form by mail. For hot tips download and fax the form at: www.cslb.ca.gov.
By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. Because many unlicensed operators don't comply with the workers compensation laws, they often submit lower bids on jobs. But, if one of their workers is injured on the job, the homeowner could be considered liable. And, if a deal goes bad with an unlicensed contractor, the homeowner has very few options.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license
- Don't hire the first contractor who comes along
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door, especially when they will use material they claim is left over from another job
- Don't rush into repairs, no matter how badly they're needed
- Verify the contractor's license at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- 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
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 292,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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