Monday, September 12, 2011

10 arrested in unlicensed contractor sting

Ten people have been arrested in a crackdown on unlicensed contractors, authorities said today.
The arrests followed a two-day undercover sting by Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Each was given a notice to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license.
Officials with the state agency began the sting by finding advertisements on popular Web sites, such as Angie’s List. Sheriff’s detectives then contacted the individuals and asked them for estimates on installing a hot water heater.
Investigators set up at a vacant home using surveillance cameras to record the discussions about estimates and the work. “People are coming to houses and doing work they have no business doing,” said Detective Bruce Cohen. Homeowners are liable for any injuries that occur to unlicensed contractors while they are working. He stressed that unlicensed work can void homeowners insurance and, if the work is done incorrectly, insurance companies won’t cover the repairs.
Homeowners can check whether a contractor is licensed by going to or calling (850) 487-1395. The state recommends that consumers: get three bids; check references; get a written contract; and pay no more than 10 percent or $1,000 down, whichever is less, until the job is complete. They also should beware of contractors who ask for full payment up front, only accept cash or solicit door to door.

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