Report Unlicensed Activity

Report Unlicensed Activity

CSLB Unlicensed Contractor stingThe Contractors State License Board (CSLB) states that unlicensed contracting is part of California’s estimated annual $60 to $140 billion dollar underground economy. These individuals and businesses do not pay taxes, have general liability insurance or license surety bonds. The CSLB also believes that it is not unusual for them to be involved in other illegal activities as well.

What can you do if believe that an individual or business is contracting without a license? And can I report unlicensed activity?

File a complaint using this CSLB Advertising Complaint for Unlicensed Contractors form.

What is illegal contractor activity?

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. Besides being illegal, unlicensed contractors lack accountability and have a high rate of involvement in construction scams. Unlicensed contractors are also creating unfair competition for licensed contractors who operate with bonds, insurance, and other responsible business practices.

What should you do if you know that an individual or business is using someone else’s license number illegally?

File a complaint using this CSLB Advertising Complaint for Unlicensed Contractors form.

What happens if you don’t renew you license on time?

You will be considered unlicensed until your renewal is processed. During this period you may not enter into any new contracts.

How does CSLB process complaints against unlicensed contractors?

When the Board receives a complaint against an unlicensed contractor, it may issue an administrative citation or file a criminal action with the local district attorney’s office. In some cases, it may initiate injunction proceedings against the non-licensee through the Office of the Attorney General or the district attorney.


The Registrar may issue a citation to an unlicensed contractor when there is probable cause to believe that the person is acting in the capacity of a contractor or engaging in the business of contracting without a license that is in good standing with CSLB. The citation includes an order of abatement to cease and desist and a civil penalty of up to $15,000. Unless the board receives a written appeal within fifteen (15) working days after the citation is served, the citation becomes a final order of the Registrar. The civil penalty is paid to CSLB.

If the citation is appealed, a mandatory settlement conference may be held to resolve the citation. If the matter is not settled, the appeal will be heard before an administrative law judge. The administrative law judge submits a decision to uphold, modify, or dismiss the citation. The decision is sent to the Registrar for adoption. If the cited unlicensed contractor continues to contract without a license, the Registrar may refer the case to the local district attorney for criminal action.

Criminal Action

CSLB may refer investigations to the local prosecutor to file criminal charges. If criminal charges are filed, the unlicensed contractor appears in local court, which renders a final decision on the case. The court may order a fine, probation, restitution, a jail sentence, or all of these.


The Registrar may apply for an injunction with the superior court of either the county in which an alleged practice or transaction took place or the county in which the unlicensed person maintains a business or residence. An injunction restrains an unlicensed person from acting in the capacity or engaging in the business of contracting without a license that is in good standing with CSLB.

If you are unlicensed and need help with your application or you need study materials, the License Guru is here to help.


I am a Navy vet and former laborer for a B-Gen Bldg contractor, I built mobile homes for many years, I worked at the Contractors State License Board for 5 yrs, and have been operating a contractors license service company since 2005.

4 thoughts on “Report Unlicensed Activity”

  1. I have a friend who has recommended her boyfriend to lay flirting in our home. She said he did great work and could to it for a very responsible rate. The quote he gave me (100% verbal, no paper trail) didn’t seem reasonable and I had a weird feeling in my gut.
    I did some research and learned any job over $500 (including labor and materials) is illegal! She claims they had no idea, but I find that unbelievable. He’s been in this line of work for at least 16 years.
    Now, I find myself angry because I feel I e been lied to, but also more angry because I feel a I can’t trust her anymore.
    I need some advice. Where to I go from here? Do I report them or try to let it go?

  2. Pamela O'Hara

    I don’t think the CSLB in some cases they are not for the consumer I have a case now the plumbers have appox. 6 violations that I have seen though the CSLB. And the company is getting a slap on there hand, because this is their first time for any violations. This is the time to take their licenses away for at least 3 months.OMG if you seen my case from salesperson wasn’t registered. Just like the Bonney Plumbing case in April of 2015. Misrepresentation, lies from the VP of this company, job was not complete, they cashed everything.No preliminary notice , no right to cancel OMG I can go on and on.No permit..The CLSB is saying oh we charged them for no permit,no reg # and the salesperson put a GA at the end of his reg# and suppose to be SP. And excepted more than 10% deposit this is all CSLB is charging them. I think tit’s discrimination My god I have more about 80 pages of emails. The VP used my credit card without my permission …The salesperson lied about more things i can prove. What can I do???

    1. Historically speaking, the CSLB has always been pro consumer and anti-contractor. Having worked in the Sacramento Enforcement Unit in Sacramento, I can tell you that first offenses generally receive a Letter of Warning. Subsequent violations are given citations, suspensions, and or revocation of the license.

      I suggest you contact your State representative and file a complaint with his/her office. Click here to find yours. The rep will have a contact me form on their website.

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