SACRAMENTO – Experienced contractors who are properly licensed with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) are rewarded with a CSLB license number. Unfortunately, CSLB license numbers are sometimes stolen or misused by unlicensed contractors, as was the case in a recent Shasta County sting operation.
A dozen people face possible misdemeanor charges for unlicensed contracting after the recent undercover sting in Redding. CSLB partnered with the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office and the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office to conduct the operation. On February 4-5, 2020, CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) members posed as owners of a three-bedroom residence and invited alleged unlicensed contractors to place bids on home improvement work.
Over the two days, alleged unlicensed contractors showed-up to give bids for jobs including tree removal, interior painting, deck construction, concrete, and fencing. Bids ranged from $600 to $9,000, well over the legal limit for contracting without a license. In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to bid for or perform any home improvement work valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs (Business and Professions Code (BPC) §7028). First-conviction penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. CSLB is referring all 12 cases to the Shasta County D.A.’s Office.
Among these cases, one contractor was allegedly using a revoked license number. That person faces a possible penalty for fraudulent use of an incorrect license number (Business and Professions Code (BPC § 7027.3). Those interested in getting a contractor license are encouraged to attend one of our licensing workshops.
“Consumers need to check a contractor’s credentials. They should look up a contractor’s license number on CSLB’s website, and make sure the license is active,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “Then, ask to see a contractor’s pocket license ID card and compare it to another picture ID to confirm that the contractor isn’t using someone else’s license number illegally.”
Consumers can check the status of a contractor’s Photo of a Contractors State License Board pocket license card.license in seconds with an “Instant License Check” on CSLB's website. Homeowners can search for information by license number, name, or business name. The search results reveal whether the contractor’s license is active and in good standing, gives insurance and bond information, and tells you if CSLB has taken any actions against the contractor’s license.
Nine individuals also could face a misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising. Unlicensed contractors must state in all ads that they do not have a license (BPC §7027.1). The penalty for violating the advertising rules for unlicensed contractors is a fine of $700 to $1,000.
Other tips to consider:
Consumers should always get three bids from licensed contractors before hiring anyone to perform home improvement work.
Homeowners can use CSLB's “Find My Licensed Contractor” feature to build and download a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area.
Pay no more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.
Keep all of your project documents, including payments and photographs, in a job file.
Confirm contractor is carrying workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only employee.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates almost 290,000 contractors in California and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2018-2019, CSLB helped recover over $49 million in ordered restitution for consumers.