News Details

County Prosecutor and Office of Consumer Protection Issue Warning to Homeowners

November 16, 2012

News

                                                                                                                          For Immediate Release: November 16, 2012

Contact:  Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger (856-853-3395) or Freeholder Lyman Barnes (856-853-3380) or Prosecutor Sean Dalton (856-384-5530)

 

County Prosecutor and Office of Consumer Protection Issue Warning to Homeowners

 

 (Woodbury, NJ) – In light of the damage left behind by Hurricane Sandy, County Prosecutor Sean Dalton and the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders issued warnings today to homeowners regarding possible scams and home improvement contractors who are not registered.

The New Jersey Home Improvement Contractors Registration Act requires all contractors conducting business in this state, provide written contracts and to be registered with the State Office of Consumer Affairs.  Existing home contractors should have been registered by December 31, 2005 and must renew their 90 dollar registration annually.

 Freeholder Director Robert Damminger said, “Our consumer affairs office has received several complaints after the storm.  Several complaints are against tree removal companies who are not providing contracts, or do sloppy work and do not return.”

 Any contractor can go to the state web-site and download an application and can renew online at www.njconsumeraffairs.com/contractors or call 1-800-242-5846. 

 Freeholder Liaison to Consumer Protection Lyman Barnes added, “In the time after a declared State of Emergency, price gouging and people posing as utility workers can be widespread.  These scammers can be persuasive and aggressive about entering your home.  Never let anyone in your home if you have not called for service.  If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a contractor, please call your local police.” 

 Fines for working on home remodeling and not being registered can be as high as $10,000  for the first offense and $20,000  for each subsequent offense, or jail time if the crime is egregious enough, as determined by the County Prosecutor.

 The most irresponsible contractors- those who take money and don’t do the job- also face state prison sentences.  A Thorofare NJ man last month was sent to state prison for three years after collecting thousands of dollars from several local homeowners for tree and concrete removal jobs that were never performed.

  County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said charitable giving should also be scrutinized. “To avoid becoming a victim of your own generosity at a time when people truly need help, be aware right now about false charities trying to get you for cash, or ask that you provide them with a credit card number.  When dealing with charities, investigate before you donate.   You can check out any charity at the state hotline 973-504-6215.”

 Con men can come in many guises, points out Det. William Perna, a member of Prosecutor Dalton’s office who speaks frequently to organizations on crimes against the elderly.  Recently, a man claiming to be a municipal utility worker in Evesham Township, Camden County NJ was allowed into the home of an 81-year-old woman on the pretext of testing for contaminated water.  She later reported jewelry stolen and it was determined the man was not an MUA employee.

 “The lack of a uniform or ID and an unmarked vehicle should be red flags that something is amiss,”  said Perna.

  Please feel free to contact the county Office of Consumer Protection at 856-384-6855.  There is staff available that can assist in getting answers on any consumer questions you may have.

 

 

###