HIRING A CONTRACTOR
Craigs List Warning There was an article in the Courier last week about scams taking place on Craigslist that target job seekers, churches that need assistance and online sellers here in Yavapai County. It sure does give one an unsettling feeling after reading the article and realizing what easy prey the unsuspecting are. I visited Craigslist after reading this article to see for myself how someone could become a victim to an employment scam and I can see why the unsuspecting can easily become a victim. Some of these ads are too good to be true and everyone should take precaution. Hiring a contractor off Craigslist is just can be just as frightening and forbidding.
Last Week, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors solicited jobs via Craigslist through a “sting operation”. The Arizona sting led to 15 unlicensed contractor investigations. These companies were working illegally without licenses and bidding work well over the $1,000 Handyman exemption rules. The ROC used a “bait” house under construction and contacted several contractors through Craigslist to bid on work that included everything from painting, landscaping to flooring. This sting was part of a multistate operation where Arizona joined three other western states, Oregon, California and Nevada in conducting this unlicensed contractor sting. The Oregon sting led to 31 unlicensed contractor violations and the California sting led to the arrest of 100 suspects. Nevada issued 23 citations to unlicensed Craigslist advertisers.
Unfortunately hundreds if not thousands of unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors are breaking the law everyday by posting deceptive or illegal ads not only through Craigslist, but through other advertising channels. Tyler Palmer, Spokesman with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors said that Craigslist was targeted because we know that it has become a popular source for homeowners that are looking for contractors. Mr. Palmer stated that the Arizona sting operation was based on a search of Craigslist advertisers in Phoenix. Eighteen individuals were solicited for bids at the “bait” house, sixteen appeared and only one was properly licensed. I took at look at our local Craigslist advertising for contractors and the majority are not licensed, some list a license number, however it has either been revoked or suspended and there are others that I would venture to say are individuals that have “borrowed” a license number from another company or they possibly work for the company and more than likely would ask for payment to be made directly to them or ask for cash and work after hours or on weekends.
It is important to remember that anyone advertising for work in the State of Arizona is required to list their contractor’s license number on all advertising including letterhead, business cards and contracts, or the words “not a licensed contractor” must be stated. I receive calls weekly from homeowners that have become victims by unlicensed contractors who take money for jobs they do not do, do shoddy work and leave the job unfinished. It is also important to remember that licensed contractors are required to have workers compensation, liability insurance and be bonded. You should always ask for proof of these items. I will go on record that you do not always guarantee yourself a good outcome on the project with a licensed contractor either. There are licensed contractors working that have multiple complaints against their license, they have had their licensed suspended for various reasons, so it is always a good rule of thumb to check with YCCA before you hire.