Human Services Spotlight Series #8
Protecting Pinellas Residents from Unlicensed Contractors
In April 2017, a Pinellas County homeowner entered into a written agreement with an individual advertising themselves to be a construction contractor to build an additional room and remodel her home for $31,000. She paid the individual more than $26,000, but the work did not pass inspections. The city fined the homeowner and there were serious issues with the work that was done. The work was so poor that it cost the homeowner an additional $35,000 to fix the damages and complete the project.
In July 2017, another Pinellas homeowner hired the same individual to complete home repairs after a neighbor referred him. The homeowner entered into a written contract to rebuild her decks, replace siding, install new doors, re-trim windows and install fencing. She paid the contractor more than $14,000. After the work had already begun and payments were made, the homeowner realized it was not being done properly. The contractor became very unprofessional, constantly demanding more money.
Both homeowners complained to Pinellas County Consumer Protection hoping to get some of their money back and to prevent the contractor from harming someone else.
A contractors license was required for the work that was being done, however the worker did not have one. Consumer Protection works to conduct criminal investigations into unlicensed contractors who have scammed, defrauded or harmed homeowners in Pinellas County so that victims can be made whole and unlicensed contractors are held accountable for their illegal actions. In these cases, Consumer Protection’s diligent and thorough investigation resulted in multiple criminal charges being filed by the State Attorney’s Office. Restitution was ordered in the amount each homeowner paid the contractor.
Protect – Regulate – Investigate – Educate
Sometimes it is hard to spot fraud when it is happening. Scams can be large or small, sophisticated or simple, but the people behind them have two things in common: They want to steal your money and avoid being caught. The reality is anyone could fall victim to a scam, no matter your age, intellect or economic status. Most consumer transactions are completed satisfactorily. On occasion, however, any consumer could experience unresolved problems such as defective products, erroneous bills or nondelivery of goods or services.
When you are confronted with such a situation, the dedicated employees of Pinellas County Consumer Protection are here to help you. Investigators are available to speak with you regarding a consumer transaction at (727) 464-6200 or email pinellascounty.org/consumer.