Suspected Fraud, Fictitious Names

Suspected fraud, fictitious names and ink stained fingers tell these contractors tales. Unfortunately, some stories don’t have a happy ending. For two of these contractor’s problems the solutions are relatively straightforward, but another will find my answer ‘stings’ and ignorance of the law is no excuse…

Q: I passed my exam and was given a letter that says I need to provide a $12,500 contractors bond, proof of Worker’s Comp and a completed asbestos open-book exam. I know I submitted all three of these items and also was fingerprinted. Do I need to provide the CSLB with these items again? By the way, I don’t plan on hiring any employees.

A: On most occasions, after a waiver application is posted (accepted) or the applicant on an exam application passes the license tests, the Contractors Board will issue what is referred to as “bond-and-fee letter”. This details what items are necessary before the Board will issue a license number. Unfortunately, on some occasions, the items being requested have previously been submitted as you indicated. It may be that the bond, asbestos exam and Worker’s Compensation exemption (because you will have no employees) are in the Board’s computer files but the testing center did not realize this. Or it could be the three items in question have not yet been entered into the Board’s computer system. I would suggest re- submitting copies of everything they requested along with your “pass” letter. While I realize it is not often feasible, it is advisable to hand-deliver documents to the CSLB and get a stamped copy.

Q: I went to renew my fictitious name statement and open a different business account because I discovered there was some fraud on my present business. I put my wife on the new business name. Do I need to notify the CSLB? Thanks for your input.

A: If your only goal is to do business under another fictitious business name (DBA) then you should notify the CSLB of this name change. It appears you are in the process of changing this with your Local County or city. On the other hand, if you will be creating an entirely new (i.e. second) business, then you will need to apply for a new contractor’s license.

Q: Our family business (Sole Owner) was approached by a CSLB agent posing as a consumer interested in purchasing a product that we sell. We were cited for violating a California CSLB law. The reason for the STING was that a competitor (not a consumer) filed a complaint with the CSLB. There are two parts to our company one for the marketing, fabricating and sales arm and the other is our installation side (which has a license in good standing).

Why can’t we sell to a customer with or without installation costs and have the work done by our contractor arm? Thank you for your time and consideration and we look forward to your input/direction.

A: If you are doing business under one name but advertising under a different name, this is likely the reason for the sting (regardless of whether it was initiated by a competitor or consumer). Not only do you need the proper license “in good standing” but the business name style you use to contract must be the same as listed in the CSLB records.

It would appear that all your advertising uses one name but the contracting is performed under a second business entity. Since the unlicensed business is not only selling but also contracting to “INSTALL”, both entities need a license.

I would suggest applying for a second license for the “marketing, sales, fabrication” business or discontinue all contracts that use the unlicensed business.