Contractors State License Board Issues Red Alert for Green Scam
Board warns consumers to watch out for crooked solar installers
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has issued a Consumer Alert to warn unsuspecting property owners of scams in the popular "green" contracting trades. Several Sonoma County victims have apparently lost tens of thousands of dollars to a business called American Sun Solar Corporation, operated by Peter Davidson.
CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) investigators are now searching for additional victims or witnesses who have done business with Davidson or American Sun Solar Corporation. The company closed its doors recently, leaving customers, suppliers and staff to face serious financial loss.
Davidson allegedly took illegally large down payments, diverted the money, and then abandoned the projects. He also allegedly failed to pay material suppliers, leaving thousands of dollars in unpaid bills, resulting in liens filed against homeowners' properties.
CSLB investigators believe Davidson, whose contractor's license (#743758) was revoked in January 2002, had been operating his solar business since spring 2008. Anyone who has information about American Sun Solar Corporation or Davidson is urged to contact CSLB's Santa Rosa Office at (707) 576-2196.
Green contracting is a relatively new area of construction marketing that is growing in popularity with consumers who want to help the environment. "Contractors working in the green trades still need to be qualified and licensed," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Help yourself out, in addition to helping the environment, by checking these people out with CSLB before you hire them."
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status through CSLB's Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or through its toll-free automated telephone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). Find out if the contractor's license is active and in the right classification for the work to be done. Consumers can also see if CSLB has taken any disciplinary action against the contractor, if the business name and address are correct, and if there is workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees.
Consumers can also download tips and publications on topics like hiring a contractor and home improvement contracts from the CSLB Web site. The Web site also has a location for people to report unlicensed activity.
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 hire the first contractor who comes along.
- Don't rush into repairs, no matter how badly they're needed.
- Verify the contractor's license at www.cslb.ca.gov or 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment.
- Don't pay in cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
In 2009, CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs, marks its 80th anniversary of protecting consumers by regulating California's construction industry. Today CSLB licenses more than 315,000 contractors. In any given year, complaints are filed against only 3% of licensed contractors. In fiscal year 2007-08, the CSLB helped consumers recover $35.2 million in ordered restitution.
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