“CSLB investigators work to protect consumers by conducting these stings and citing suspected unlicensed contractors who can be a great liability to a homeowner’s projects and finances. While consumers should do their due diligence in checking a contractor’s license, these investigations are an additional safety net.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
SACRAMENTO – On December 13, 14, and 19, 2022, investigators from the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) conducted an undercover sting in which they sought home improvement bids at a location in Sacramento. The goal of the operation was to identify and cite suspected unlicensed contractors.
Of those who came to place bids, 10 people were caught allegedly contracting illegally. Contracting without a license in California is a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $15,000.
One individual was referred to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office for advertising the license of another contractor as his/her own, which could result in a penalty of up to $15,000. The suspect fled the scene upon seeing law enforcement, but investigators had obtained the evidence necessary to pursue the case.
The bids ranged from $1,500 to remove a tree, $4,600 to pour concrete, and as high as $11,500 for landscaping – all above the $500 threshold requiring a contractors license.
All suspects could face charges for their illegal advertisements. In California, contractors are required to place their license number on all business-related materials (ads, vehicles, business cards, etc.). Homeowners can use that information to Check a License on CSLB’s website.
Of those who came to place a bid, three individuals requested excessive down payments. Contractors can only ask for 10% or $1,000 of the contract price – whichever is less. Also, two of the quotes included labor, but neither suspect had a workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Consumers are often unaware unlicensed contractors have not completed background checks and usually do not carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees – which increases liability risks to homeowners.