State Officials warn homeowners about unlicensed contractors

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- It’s spring, which means many people are ready to clean away winter’s mess. Whether you’re doing the work yourself, or planning to hire a contractor, the Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) says it’s crucial for homeowners to take heed during the selection and hiring process to avoid falling victim to unlicensed contractors and scams.

“Door-to-door sales are probably something that is a potential scam,” Jeff Gore, Compliance Investigator with the Nevada State Contractors Board, says. “There are always ads and things that are too good to be true.”

Before hiring anyone to work on your home, the board says always verify your contractor’s license and be sure they are certified. Also, insist on a written contract, showing the exact details of the type of work being done, including an agreed-upon-price, start and completion dates, and warranties. Finally, never pay with cash.

"Contractors will take your money early spring and, say, by the end of summer your landscaping will be done. Well there's nothing written in the contractual agreement and they took $5,000 from you,” Gore said.

The NSCB says identifying which contractors are licensed or not is the biggest issue it sees.

"They might have a license number that's listed on their card, it could be a business license number, it could be a fake number they made up, we've seen them even use other licensed contractors numbers," Gore said.

The NSCB has performed house stings in the past in order to catch fraudulent contractors. An unlicensed contractor’s first conviction is a misdemeanor, the second is a gross misdemeanor, and the third offense is considered a felony.

“We don't want anybody hurt, especially our senior citizens out there who are some of the most trusting people,” Gore said.

In order to determine whether the contractor you want to hire is licensed, you can check the contractor’s license and information on the NSCB website, or call the NSCB office at 775-688-1141 and they can check for you.