@Account Closed If the contractor is licensed, you could always go to the government authority in charge of issuing those types of licenses and report him. If the contractor has any online profiles (i.e. yelp, google places, etc) you can also post your mother-in-law's experience with him. Regarding getting a good contractor, you'll need to interview a few people before you decide on one to hire. Try to narrow it down to three good candidates. You may want to get a few referrals from neighbors in the area. Good luck!
@Account Closed if licensed some states have a fund to help people ripped of by licensed contractors.
You need to check references and make sure he or she does not get to far ahead of you regarding cash paid vs work done.