PHOENIX - Inside a seemingly normal house on a quiet block in Scottsdale, investigators for the state's Registrar of Contractors are waiting to conduct a sting.
They're looking for contractors who are working under the radar without a license issued by the state.
The ABC15 investigators set up hidden cameras inside the home which is under renovation and watched as the investigators brought in contract after contractor who advertised on Craigslist to ask one, simple question:
"I noticed that some guys, on some of these advertisements put licensed, bonded, insured. Some guys put unlicensed. Do you know what that means?" the ROC investigator asked a contractor who came to the house to give him a bid on work in the house.
"I, personally, am not licensed," the contractor said. "Basically, you're supposed to be licensed when it comes to bigger jobs," he said, "If you're doing big $30,000 jobs, you need to be licensed."
Wrong. Any construction over $1,000 performed without a license is a Class 1 misdemeanor according to ROC Director William Mundell. "You have to be licensed in the state of Arizona to perform those tasks," he said.
None of the contractors, who came in to offer a bid on the work this day, said they were licensed.
The Registrar of Contractors opened nine investigations into contractors who they say broke the law during their latest sting, which was conducted in conjunction with six other states.
The contractors will be fined and some prosecuted.
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
"We recommend you get three bids," Director Mundell said. "Get it in writing. Don't pay your money up front. Pay in increments. Don't pay in cash."
And, most importantly, Mundell said, make sure the contractor you're hiring is licensed.
"I know it's a lot of work," he said, "but it's one of the biggest investments that people make."
If you want to know if a contractor you want to hire is licensed, go to the ROC website and search for the contractor by name or license number.
If that contractor was licensed, Mundell said that you may be able to get your money back through a recovery fund. You can apply for it and get your money back up to $30,000.