– The New Jersey Division of Consumer
Affairs today is deploying teams of Consumer
Affairs investigators to communities in
Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic and Union
counties affected by severe Passaic River
is an ugly truth that every disaster attracts
its share of con artists and frauds, from
fake charities to dishonest home improvement
contractors. The Division of Consumer Affairs
is mobilizing teams of investigators to
the communities affected by flooding. We
will remind citizens to use caution and
obtain important information before hiring
a home improvement contractor. And we’re
reminding any unscrupulous contractors that
the State will come after them if they attempt
to cheat homeowners who are already in a
difficult situation,” Thomas R. Calcagni,
Acting Director of the Division of Consumer
inspectors will visit residents at emergency
shelters, police stations, municipal buildings
and other locations identified by local
authorities. The education campaign will
take place today and may continue later
this week, on an as-needed basis, as determined
through Consumer Affairs’ communications
with the local governments and offices of
investigators are providing an information
packet, “Tips for Flood Victims: How
to Avoid Disaster-Related Scams” in
English and Spanish. Copies can be downloaded
in English at www.nj.gov/oag/ca/press/floodvictims.pdf
and in Spanish at www.nj.gov/oag/ca/press/SPfloodvictims.pdf
seeking to repair their homes after flooding
or other disasters, residents should remember:
Ask to see identification before you let
anyone who claims to be from a utility
company inspect your home.
Never give your credit card number or
financial information to strangers over
the phone or Internet.
Contact the Division of Consumer Affairs
before hiring a home improvement contractor.
Find out whether the contractor is registered
and if there are any complaints against
the contractor or his or her company.
Obtain the contractor’s registration
number (it begins “13VH”).
Call Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6420
or use our database of registered contractors
After confirming that a contractor is
registered, demand a copy of his or her
liability insurance policy. Call the insurance
company to learn whether the policy is
It is customary not to pay for an entire
home improvement project in advance. Pay
one-third beforehand, one-third halfway
through, and one-third upon completion.
If the contractor offers to do electrical
work, contact Consumer Affairs’
Board of Electrical Contractors at 973-504-6410
to learn whether he or she is properly
If the contractor offers plumbing services,
contact Consumer Affairs’ State
Board of Examiners of Master Plumbers
at 973-504-6420 or www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/plumber
to learn whether he or she is properly
Under the Consumer Fraud Act, it is unlawful
during a State of Emergency or within
30 days of the termination of a State
of Emergency to charge excessive prices
– or 10 percent more than the original
price – for any goods and services
needed to sustain the life, health, safety,
or comfort of individuals or their property
as a direct result of an emergency.
those who receive solicitations from charities,
the Division of Consumer Affairs encourages
Give to charities you know and trust.
Never give to a charity you know nothing
about. Ask for literature and read it.
Ask questions. Honest charities encourage
you to do so.
Contact Consumer Affairs’ Charities
Hotline at 973-504-6215
to learn about specific charities. You
can confirm whether a charity is registered
or is exempt from registration requirements.
You can also learn about the charity’s
most recently reported financial information,
including how much the charity reported
spending on programs, fundraising and
Additionally, you can check the Division’s
new list of the Top 10 Most Inquired-About
Charities, which was launched this week
and will be updated every two months,
Don’t be fooled by a convincing
name. A dishonest charity will often have
an impressive name or one that closely
resembles the name of a respected, legitimate
Don’t succumb to pressure. Don’t
let yourself be pressured into giving,
and don’t feel you have to contribute
on the spot. No legitimate organization
will expect you to contribute immediately,
even if you have given in the past.
Ask if the charity uses a professional
fundraiser and, if so, what percentage
of your contribution will actually go
toward relief efforts and how much will
be used to pay the fundraiser.
Beware of unsolicited and phony email
notices that claim to be from a charity
asking for your credit card information.
This scam is called “phishing”
and could be used by thieves to commit
identity theft. If the charity is unfamiliar
to you, check whether the group is registered
with Consumer Affairs’ Charities
Section. If the organization is registered
or you know the organization, call the
group directly to find out if the email
notice is valid.
who believe they have been cheated or scammed
by a business, or suspect any other form
of consumer abuse, can file a complaint
with the State Division of Consumer Affairs
by visiting its website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov,
or by calling 1-800-242-5846
(toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.