Mon, Sep 18, 2023 5:45 PM
By Timothy Schumann, The Center Square
Spokane County residents who have already endured so much related to the recent wildfires are asked by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries to be on the lookout for contractors not registered with the department.
Criminal opportunists taking advantage of the situation have already included individuals burglarizing evacuated properties and others impersonating Red Cross assessors to gain access to homes after the fire recovery efforts began.
“Disasters like our state’s recent wildfires often bring out scam artists itching to make a buck from homeowners desperate to quickly rebuild or repair their homes," reads a Monday L&I news release. "L&I requires construction contractors to be registered and have liability insurance, a business license, and a bond to provide some financial protection if something goes wrong with the project."
“As tempting as it is to go with the first person you find, it’s crucial to check their background before you hire a contractor,” said L&I’s Chief of Contractor Compliance Melissa McBride in the news release. “Sadly, far too many homeowners who’ve been cheated by unregistered contractors tell us they wish they would have checked first to see if they were registered with L&I.”
Property owners can check a contractor's registration status by going to ProtectMyHome.net or by calling Labor and Industries at 1-800-647-0982 and pressing 2 on their phone.
L&I's website also has a guide to help deal with common pitfalls when hiring a contractor.
Aside from verifying contractors are registered, recommendations for homeowners include:
Getting three written bids.Checking contractors’ referrals and online reputation.Getting a well-written contract.Never paying in full until the job is done.