SACRAMENTO – A citation for unlicensed contracting was the last birthday present one unlicensed operator expected when he submitted a bid for a painting job at an El Dorado Hills undercover sting house on Saturday, April 20.
Conducted by the Contractors State License Board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team, with assistance from the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and Department of Consumer Affairs Division of Investigation, the weekend operation found 11 offenders, three with a record of previous citations.
In California, all home improvement jobs totaling $500 or more in combined labor and material costs must be undertaken by a CSLB-licensed contractor.
Property owners considering improvement projects always should consult CSLB’s online instant license check to ensure the contractor license is in good standing.
All 11 suspects face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license (Business and Professions Code section 7028). First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines; subsequent convictions bring harsher penalties. Ten face an additional misdemeanor charge of illegal advertising (Business and Professions Code section 7027.1). State law requires that contractors include their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise as long as the ad states that they are not a state-licensed contractor, and the combined total of a project’s labor and materials costs is under $500.
The suspects were found through advertisements in local pamphlets, on craigslist.org, and from business cards posted to bulletin boards at local businesses. Undercover CSLB investigators solicited bids for exterior painting, landscaping, tree removal, and fence replacement.
“Advertisements in local publications and business cards do not mean an individual is a legally licensed contractor,” cautioned CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “Unlicensed contractors are rarely insured and put homeowners at serious financial risk if a worker is injured on the property.”
CSLB conducts sting operations throughout the state each week — even on weekends — to protect consumers, help level the playing field for legitimate contractors, and to curb the underground economy.