ST.HELENA –On June 25, 2021, the St. Helena Police Department (SHPD) announced the results of a California Contractor State License Board (CSLB) sting that targeted unlicensed contractors. SHPD and CSLB worked with the Napa County District Attorney’s Office and the Calistoga Police Department during the two-day operation held June 16-17, 2021.
During the decoy operation in which CSLB investigators received contracting bids from unlicensed contractors, law enforcement officers issued 22 citations. Additionally, CSLB has filed nine administrative cases.
Citations were issued for contracting without a license, illegal advertising, excessive down payment, driving under the influence of drugs, drug paraphernalia and driving without a license.
“These are not the types of individuals you want to trust with your home improvement projects,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “They have not passed state tests and background checks and more often than not, don’t carry insurance to protect themselves or their workers, which puts a homeowner at risk. The work CSLB investigators do during these decoy operations helps to protect consumers and to educate.”
CSLB Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) members posed as homeowners of a residence in a senior community and invited alleged unlicensed contractors to place bids on renovation work. These bids included flooring, fencing, painting, remodeling, and concrete work. CSLB discovered the contractors were unlicensed, placing excessive bids, and potentially preying on the senior community.
Consumers can check a contractor's license by searching their license number, name, or business name. The search results also show whether the contractor's license is active and in good standing, as well as workman’s comp information. The contractor's individual page also lists bond information and if CSLB has taken any actions against the contractor's license.
When hiring a contractor, consumers should also remember:
- Watch the down payment. The legal limit for a down payment is 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is lower.
- Always get three bids from licensed contractors before hiring anyone to perform home improvement work.
- Use CSLB's "Find My Licensed Contractor" feature to build and download a list of qualified licensed contractors in their area. https://www.cslb.ca.gov/.../CheckLicen.../ZipCodeSearch.aspx
- Those interested in getting a contractor license are encouraged to attend one of our licensing workshops. https://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/
CSLB provided educational materials and instructed the contractors on how to obtain a proper license. The unlicensed contractors are still eligible to obtain a license despite being in violation.