The California Contractors Network Self Insured Group has warned homeowners to beware being duped into hiring unlicensed contractors to do clean-up and repair work after the devastating fires that swept through Southern California.

The California Contractors Network Self Insured Group, an association of licensed contractors that represents 130 contractors with more than 25,000 workers across California, has warned homeowners to beware being duped into hiring unlicensed contractors to do clean-up and repair work after the devastating fires that swept through Southern California. “On top of the hundreds of thousands of families who’ve been damaged by the firestorm,” President Tom Wheeler said, “thousands more will be further victimized by hiring unlicensed ‘contractors’ who are not legally able to do the work, and often never return once a fat deposit has been paid.” The association notes that that some 14,000 insurance claims already have been filed in California, with insurers expecting to pay up to $1.6 billion for wind and fire damage to homes, farms, vehicles and businesses. “That kind of money will draw the worst of the worst to try to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense,” Wheeler said, who saw such dealings last year after fires that ravished the Lake Tahoe (Angora) area. The California Contractors State License Board set up a sting operation in which agents posed as homeowners seeking repairs. Unlicensed scam artists illegally sought work in the disaster area. Five Nevada contractors and one unlicensed California contractor were arrested and sent to jail. Homeowners in the California fire disaster area are urged to make sure a contractor is licensed in the state by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov, or by calling 800/321-CSLB (2752).