Worried about "fly-by-night roofers, unlicensed movers and fake mortgage brokers," among others, the state Department of Revenue has set up a website where you can quickly check to see if a business is licensed, has paid its taxes, and find out where to get help if you've been defrauded.
In a press release, Gov. Chris Gregoire said the idea is to get people to "check with the state before it's too late. We don't want your pain to be their gain."
State officials estimate that the underground economy costs the state treasury $457 million a year, with more than a third of that loss from contractors. Much of the loss comes from businesses that are happy to charge their customers sales tax -- and then keep the money. (That's a felony.)
The new website's called www.suspectfraud.com.