Unlicensed Operators Getting You Down?
If you are a victim of unlicensed operator activities, the California Landscape Contractors Association has some good news for you:
There are two state-government entities that are responsible for enforcing some or all of the laws that pertain to these activities: the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and the Joint Enforcement Strike Force. The former oversees the Statewide Investigation Fraud Team (SWIFT), which investigates complaints against unlicensed contracting and related activities. The latter is a multi-agency organization that seeks to root out the underground economy and devotes a large portion of its enforcement efforts to the construction industry.
If you really want to put your illegal competition out of business, you must do your part. You must report illegal activities to the proper state agency.
It's important to gather as much information as possible when faced with competition you believe to be illegal. Try to get the operator's name, address, phone number, vehicle make, and vehicle license number. Get the address of his or her jobs in progress. Get the project owner's name, address, and phone number. Collect the operator's advertisements, fliers, and business cards. Is the person using a contractor's license number? If so, make a note of the number. In addition, pictures can be excellent evidence, if you have an opportunity to take them. Check with the CSLB to find out if the person or firm is licensed -- and licensed in the proper category. To check a license, go to License Status Check on the CSLB's website. You'll find a wealth of information there on all of California's licensed contractors.
After you've collected as much information as you can, and you've determined that the person or firm is operating without a license, fill out an Unlicensed Activity Lead Form and send it to the nearest CSLB SWIFT unit. The addresses and fax numbers of the two California units are on the form. Also fill out a Lead Report and send it to Underground Economy Operations (the Joint Enforcement Strike Force) at the address on the form. Although SWIFT and the Joint Enforcement Strike Force cooperate very closely with one another on unlicensed operations, CLCA recommends that you inform both organizations to improve the chances of quick action. If you do that, write "cc" and the name of the other organization on both reports; that way both organizations will know that the other received the information as well.