SALEM, Ore. -

Construction Contractors Board investigators recently showed up unannounced at more than 200 job sites in Central and Eastern Oregon as part of an ongoing campaign targeting unlicensed contractors.

Six investigators visited nearly 40 communities in late June. They turned up 43 potential violations of construction contractor law in communities ranging from Hood River and The Dalles east to Pendleton and from the Bend area east to Ontario.

The single largest number of cases, 17 total, involved people working without a license. Another six cases involve contractors who hired an unlicensed subcontractor.

Other violations included contractors who lacked workers' compensation coverage, contractors who neglected to include their CCB number on advertising and contractors who lacked a license to handle lead-based paint.

Anyone who repairs or remodels, as well as those who build new homes or businesses, must be licensed with the CCB. Contractors working on homes built before 1978 need special licensing to handle lead-based paint.

In May, investigators turned up 30 similar violations after random visits to more than 200 coastal job sites.

"We will root out unlicensed contractors," CCB Interim Administrator Berri Leslie said. "Penalizing contractors who work on the fringe of the law levels the playing field for hard-working, legitimate contractors and protects the public."

Licensed contractors must carry a surety bond as well as liability and workers' compensation insurance. Also, homeowners may be able to get help from the CCB to resolve construction-related disputes if they use properly licensed contractors.

Salem staff now decide whether to issue warnings or fines based on the facts of the case and whether it is a first-time violation.

A typical first-offense penalty for working without a license is $1,000, with subsequent violations resulting in fines of up to $5,000. Working without a license is also a misdemeanor crime.

Contractors and consumers can report unlicensed contractors and other illegal activity or verify licenses on the CCB's website or by calling 503-378-4621.

For more info: http://www.oregon.gov/ccb/Pages/index.aspx