California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Needs Your Help

If you suspect that someone is doing work at one of your communities without a valid current contractor’s license then you should report them to the CSLB.  Helping to protect unsuspecting homeowners (and HOA Boards) from criminal contractors is important.  Turning a blind eye to crime leads to anarchy.  It’s easy to find out if someone is unlicensed.  Simply go to www.cslb.ca.gov and plug in the license number or the name of the company.  You will then get all the information you need to determine if the license is valid.  If you can’t see their license number on the contractors truck, shirt, contract or business card then you know right there that he/she is unlicensed because it is a major violation of the law to market contracting services without a license number clearly displayed on all marketing and contracts.

Every week the CSLB Unlicensed Contractor task force arrests scores of criminals.  Every week I get a bulletin from the CSLB showing who was arrested, the violation and (oddly) the age of the criminal.  Just this week over 12 people were arrested in Pacifica in just one sting operation (See Below).  If you wish you too can easily sign up for these bulletins.  You never know when someone you know turns up on the hit list.

CSLB Snares a Dozen Illegal Operators in Pacifica
Undercover sting operation targets phony contractors

SACRAMENTO – The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is warning Bay Area residents about unlicensed home improvement operators whose so-called “good deal” is no deal at all.

“Unlawful contractors are a huge part of California’s underground economy and fail to follow California contracting laws,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands.  “Homeowners may end up paying twice for a job if the person demands an illegally high down payment before starting a job or abandons the project before it’s completed.”

Homeowners seldom realize the risks they take when hiring Illegal operators.  Phony contractors never have workers’ compensation insurance, which means if a worker gets hurt they could come after the homeowner to pay their medical expenses.  In addition, homeowners have little recourse when something in the project goes awry.

This advisory comes after an undercover sting in Pacifica on July 22, 2010, turned up 11 suspected unlicensed operators, and another contracting on an expired contractor license.  The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and California Department of Insurance assisted in the operation.

Members of CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed operators to bid on painting, landscaping, and concrete projects.  California Business & Professions (B&P) Code requires a state contractor license for home improvement jobs with a value greater than $500 for labor and materials.  Suspects who bid more than the legal threshold of $500 for a job received a Notice to Appear (NTA) in San Mateo County Superior Court to face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license.

Eight will also face charges of illegal advertising.  B&P Code requires contractors to put their license number in all advertisements.  Those without licenses are permitted to do work valued at less than $500, but must state that they are not licensed in their ads.  In addition to the NTAs, SWIFT will issue one administrative citation to an individual for contracting on an expired license.  Another administrative citation will be issued to a non-licensee for illegal advertising.

CSLB provides many helpful consumer publications that can be downloaded or ordered from www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com or www.cslb.ca.gov, or by calling, toll-free: 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).

CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:

  • Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door.
  • Verify the contractor’s license by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or via CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
  • Ask to see a photo identification to make sure you’re dealing with the correct person.
  • Don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.  There is an exception to this for about two dozen contractors who have special bonds for consumer protection that are noted on the CSLB website.
  • Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Check references, and get at least 3 bids and a written contract before your project begins.

The following suspects are scheduled for arraignment in the San Mateo County Superior Court facility at 1050 Mission Road in South San Francisco on September 1, 2010, at 9:00 a.m.:

Suspect=s Name, City Age License Classification Violations

Tommy Nguyen

San Jose

51 Concrete Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Jose Antonio Ramirez Reza

San Mateo

45 Painting Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Florentino Arbieto Cruz

San Francisco

32 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Juan Francisco Banuelos Villarreal

Richmond

35 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Oscar Morado Robles

San Bruno

45 Sheet Metal Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Antonio Divino Almeida

Oakland

29 Painting Contracting without a license
Pita Masald Aho

Hillsborough

50 Concrete Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Ronald D. Sanchez

San Jose

48 Landscaping Contracting without a license, illegal advertising
Nikrooz Niknahad

Berkeley

51 Concrete Contracting without a license
Charles Anthony Cortese

Daily City

49 Painting Contracting without a license, illegal advertising

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.  More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752).  You can also sign up for CSLB e-mail alerts at www.cslb.ca.gov.  CSLB licenses and regulates California’s more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States.  In fiscal year 2009-10, CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers.

One thought on “California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Needs Your Help

  1. Many unlicensed guys who barely speak English and don’t have a valid driver’s license do work in the county of Orange (Mile of Tile – Anaheim). Just stop by the slab or stone yards (marble/granite) and you’ll see them purchasing stones for fabrication and installation without a C-54 license. CSLB may find it in everyone’s best interest to stop by this well known area for tile & stone for a “raid”.

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