Consumer Alert: Beware Post-Storm Scams

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NEWARK – As residents recover from this weekend’s flooding and wind storm, Attorney General Paula T. Dow cautioned consumers to beware of price gouging and home repair work offered by unregistered contractors.

Once a state of emergency has been declared, it is illegal for anyone to sell merchandise or services needed because of the state of emergency for more than 10% above normal selling price. A state of emergency was declared throughout New Jersey on March 14.

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“We will not tolerate anyone who attempts to illegally profit during residents’ time of need,” Dow said. “Any excessive markups for chainsaws, pumps or other materials needed as people work to recover from the weekend’s devastating storm should be reported to the Division of Consumer Affairs.”

“The widespread damage caused by this storm means lots of homeowners will be seeking repairs. Residents should be cautious and check with the Division to make sure that the companies they hire are properly licensed or registered to do the work,” said Sharon Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.

A searchable database of all registered Home Improvement Contractors is located on the Division’s web site at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/HIC. Consumers also can enter a town name and generate a list of all registered Home Improvement Contractors located in that community. Tree removal firms, if not licensed by the Department of Environmental Protection, should be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor.

Consumers also can call the Division toll-free within New Jersey at 1-800-242-5846 (or from anywhere at 973-504-6200) and inquire whether a contractor is registered and if any consumer complaints have been filed against the contractor.

Electricians, plumbers and landscape architects are licensed separately by the Division and are not required to be licensed as Home Improvement Contractors if they are working within the scope of their profession.

Consumers can file complaints about alleged price gouging or violations of the Contractors’ Registration Act or Consumer Fraud Act at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/ocp/ocpform.htm or by calling the Division at the telephone numbers listed above.


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