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Nearly a dozen contractors fell prey to a sting operation aimed at protecting homeowners from contractors working outside the law.

In Oregon anyone who hammers, saws or even paints for profit must be licensed bonded and insured.

Investigators with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board conducted the sting last week in Beaverton.

People get scammed from unlicensed contractors. They require a large down payment, homeowners are willing and usually it's the elderly that go ahead and pay that money unaware that they're being conned until it's too late, said C.C.B. Investigator Randy Probst.

Homeowner Marcia Bell said, never hire anyone without checking with the contractors board that they not only have a license but also check out their complaints.

Bell said a cabinet maker she hired still owes her more than $10,000 for work she paid for but never received. Bell complained to the C.C.B. but if a contractor is not licensed there s little the agency can do.

Complaints against licensed contractors can lead to an arbitration process where the C.C.B. attempts to decide who is right and what it will take to correct the problem.

Posing as a homeowner C.C.B. Investigator Terry Roach searched Craigs List for contractors advertising for work but not licensed to perform such work.

Roach scheduled times for contractors to show up at a Beaverton home to submit bids to perform various work on the house.

Upon arrival Roach requested a written estimate and then asked for their Oregon C.C.B. license number.

About half of the eleven contractors who showed up admitted they had no C.C.B. license but said they either didn t need one or that they were working for someone else that had one. In all eleven cases the work they submitted bids for required the person submitting the bids to personally be licensed.

Contractors caught in the sting were cited for various violations including not having a current C.C.B. License, advertising without a license and submitting bids to perform work without a C.C.B. license.

One contractor was cited for nearly $2,000 for several violations. C.C.B. Investigators say one contractor that sped off without talking with them could face even more in fines.

For more information on how to protect yourself when hiring a contractor go to: http://www.oregon.gov/CCB/consumer_help.shtml

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