State Offers Tips to Help Avoid Home Repair Scams

Aug 31, 2015

The N.J. Attorney General’s Office and the N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs are urging homeowners in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation and the Low-to-Moderate Income programs to use caution when selecting home improvement and home elevation contractors. “Superstorm Sandy brought out the best in most New Jerseyans,” notes a recent RREM letter, “but it also brought out the worst in some alleged scammers and con artists.”

To help avoid scams, the Division of Consumer Affairs explains, foremost, the importance of contacting the department at 800-242-5846 or AskConsumerAffairs@dca.lps.state.nj.us, or visiting NJConsumerAffairs.gov to learn if a contractor is registered to do business in the state, or has been the subject of any consumer complaints.

The tip sheet also encourages learning as much about the company as possible, including speaking with references and looking online for customer reviews.

In addition, be sure to “obtain a written contract that specifies exactly what you are paying for, as well as all terms and conditions,” the division states, and keep copies of all contracts, estimates, receipts and other documents in case it becomes necessary to file a complaint.

Homeowners are also warned to “beware of any contractor who offers unsolicited services – such as knocking on your door and saying he was ‘just in the neighborhood’ and can give you a good deal. This is often the first step in a scam.”

As the division points out, home elevation contractors must register with the state and meet all the requirements for home improvement contractors. In addition, home elevation contractors must have a named person in an ownership, employee or consultant position who has a minimum of five years’ experience in home elevation, and must also meet heightened insurance and bonding requirements.

For more information, visit NJConsumerAffairs.gov. —J.K.-H.

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