Sting operations from New York to California to Florida, have been catching unsavory, under-the-table, unlicensed labor workers, all in an effort to save citizens millions of dollars, the value of homes and marketplaces, and in some cases, lives. The Long Island, NY, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office mentions how several homeowners have lost tens of thousands of dollars to unlicensed contractors. Many were charged with Grand Larceny to the tune of $50,000; others paid fines. Ken Paulsen of the Staten Island Advance put together a great article and simply asks: Are you licensed? “Some consumers don’t know to check, and others think they may be getting a better deal with a contractor who is flying under the radar.” Either way, the property owner looses. When working with a state licensed contractor, it’s like adding insurance to your property improvement. Unlicensed contractors put their own clients under risk. What if your roofer falls off your roof? If that roofer is licensed, the worker’s compensation insurance will cover the damages. If the roofer is not license, that person can come back and sue the property owner. The state can step in if a contractor’s work is inadequate – consumers may receive restitution, or the contractor may be required to return and do the job right.
Take the efforts of Monterey County, California and their undercover operation that blanketed 6 states. According to Dennis Taylor, a Herald Staff Writer, 18 of the 75 people that faced criminal charges aren’t just avoiding professional fees; some are avoiding the exposure of being known as registered sex offenders and other felonies that include “robbery, rape, burglary and drug possession." Three have active arrest warrants and used someone else’s contractors license. OK – that seems pretty darn serious. Not only does working with licensed professional add another level of insurance, but it also helps protect you from nasty criminals!
Which brings me to the next point and this headline news from Georgia’s WSB-TV Choosing a licensed contractor does not always protect you. Unfortunately, Georgians are suffering because Georgia law is loosely enforced. Like pensions and 401K’s, and soon health insurance, we are ultimately responsible and need to take charge before handing the keys of our home or property to someone else. And to be frank, there’s more to being a professional besides holding a state license. There are many noteworthy credentials a contractor can carry. So how do you know if one really is LEED accredited, Energy Star certified, or qualified to do a BPI or HERS analysis? It’s time to check and require your contractor to have their credentials Leafkey Verified.
To wrap up, you’re an upstanding citizen and may believe you’re helping your neighbor or friend, but for Pete’s sake – do you really know them? A criminal’s best friend is the lie. Like Ken mentions, criminals “lie their way out of trouble.” When looking to hire a professional or contractor to make improvements on your biggest investment, be safe and do a background check. Start with working with an unbiased third-party like www.Leafkey.com. We verify all the credentials a contractor or professional provides. It’s free to consumers. Hopefully, the days of fraud and fluffing one’s resume are fading away. Until then, we’re here for you. As property owners and consumers, we all want to work with the real McCoy.
To add your 2 cents to this blog, or for help in finding a quality professional in your zip code, contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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