Christie Administration Reminds Consumers, Municipalities to be On Alert for Post-Sandy Home Repair Scams

November 5, 2012 at 5:20 PM



Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today reminded consumers and municipalities to be on high alert for fly-by-night, unregistered, and dishonest home improvement contractors in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Sign Up for E-News

“Many New Jerseyans whose lives were turned upside down by Sandy are now able to begin to assess the damage to their homes and start focusing on recovery,” Governor Christie said.  “We are urging New Jersey’s consumers and municipalities to beware of fly-by-night, incompetent, and dishonest contractors who will seek to profit from the misery of those affected by this storm.  Contact the Division of Consumer Affairs in order to learn whether any contractor who solicits you is duly registered in New Jersey.”

The Division of Consumer affairs offers tips for consumers on "How to Avoid Disaster-Related Scams" in English at
and Spanish at

Any consumer who suspects that a business is seeking to scam consumers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is urged to contact the Division at 800-242-5846.  The Division has issued an alert to counties and municipalities, and urged them to immediately report any concerns about post-storm scams.

“During the past several days, we have received nearly 1,200 consumer complaints, primarily about alleged price gouging by gas stations, hardware stores, convenience stores, and hotels, and have issued approximately 100 subpoenas to date, to businesses accused of price gouging,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.  “As New Jerseyans enter the recovery phase, we expect the bulk of new complaints to focus on home repair scams.  No matter how pressing your need for repairs, it is absolutely important to take a step back and learn all you can about any contractor – especially if he or she comes knocking on your door or posting flyers at local stores.  An unregistered or incompetent contractor can leave you with escalating costs and continuing unsafe conditions in your home.”

The Division intervened in numerous consumer complaints in the days and weeks after Governor Christie in August 2011 declared a state of emergency due to Tropical Storm Irene.  As one example, an Edison couple hired an unregistered, out-of-state contractor to pump raw sewage out of their flooded basement.  The contractor allegedly misrepresented who would clean up the sewage after it was pumped out onto their front lawn and into the street.  After being interviewed by investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs, the unregistered contractor returned an $8,000 check to the couple.

In addition, the Division launched an undercover operation based at a home damaged by Hurricane Irene, in order to identify unregistered contractors soliciting in the wake of that disaster.  The undercover operation was conducted with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Lyndhurst Police Department, The initiative resulted in criminal and civil charges against a total of 11 allegedly unregistered contractors – one of whom had a California driver’s license, Massachusetts license plate, and New Jersey post office box. The unregistered contractors advertised through flyers posted in the grocery stores of storm affected areas, or through online listings. (Further details:

“We have 42,000 contractors duly registered to perform home improvement work in New Jersey – so there is no need to entrust your home to a fly-by-night operator who is violating the law,”

Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Take the time to fully assess the damage that must be repaired.  Remember that right now it is more important than ever to obtain multiple opinions and quotes – and be absolutely sure the contractor you consider hiring is qualified, honest, and registered with the state – before you sign a contract or make a down payment.”

Tips for Consumers, When Hiring a Contractor:


·         Beware of fly-by-night opportunists who may have come in from out of state -- or those who may live locally but lack the skills and honesty you need for a significant repair job. Learn whether the contractor is properly registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs.

·         Call the Division at 800-242-5846 to learn whether the contractor is duly registered, and whether the business has been the subject of consumer complaints. You can also check the Division's online listing of legal filings to learn whether the business has been the subject of legal action by the Division.

·         Before hiring a contractor, demand a copy of the contractor's liability insurance policy, and contact the insurer to make sure the policy is valid.

·         It is customary not to pay for the entire home improvement project in advance. The general rule of thumb is to pay no more than one-third beforehand, one-third halfway through, and one-third upon completion.

·         Never give your credit card number or financial information to strangers over the phone or on the Internet.

·         In addition, you should demand identification before you let anyone who claims to be from a utility company inspect your home.

·         The law requires a written contract for home improvement work in excess of $500. The contract should include detailed information, such as start and completion dates, all work to be performed and the brands of products to be used



Acting Director Kanefsky noted that, for added convenience, consumers can use free smartphone apps, available from the Division of Consumer Affairs, to check the registration or licensing status of home improvement contractors and licensed professionals (the New Jersey “Professional License Lookup” app) and to learn about registered charities (the “Charity Search” app).


Governor Christie, Attorney General Chiesa, and Acting Director Kanefsky also warned about charity scams that have been known to prey upon the generosity of those wishing to help during times of disaster.


When Dealing With Charities, Investigate Before You Donate:


·         Before donating to a charity, find out whether the charity is registered to solicit funds in New Jersey, or is exempt from registration (certain religious and educational organizations, and charities that raise less than $10,000 annually in contributions, are exempt).

·         Find out how, exactly the charity plans to use your money. Learn how much the charity spent during recent fiscal years on program costs, management costs, and fundraising. Learn about the charity's stated mission.

·         The charity should readily provide all of this information to you. Verify the information by calling the Division of Consumer Affairs' Charities Registration Hotline at 973-504-6215, or the Charities Registration page

Consumers 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 or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200. Consumers can also visit to learn whether a contractor is duly registered with the Division.

Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on Facebook, and check our online calendar of upcoming Consumer Outreach events.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Man Passed Out in Middle of Route 15 Charged with DWI

October 22, 2016

SPARTA, NJ – Police were called to check on a man who was passed out on Route 15 in the lane of traffic near the Sparta Car Wash.  On Oct 15 Sgt. Keith Hannam went to the area and found a “2004 Honda stopped on the painted median that divided the north and southbound lanes,” according to police. 

Hannam saw that the driver was asleep behind the wheel.  He woke ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, October 23, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Lime Crest Quarry: Eons in the Making, Men in the ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Thu, October 27, 3:00 PM

Train Creative - The Sparta Train Station , Sparta

Clay Creative

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, October 27, 3:00 PM

Sparta Train Station , Sparta

Clay Creative

Arts & Entertainment

Renounce Trump

October 9, 2016


Donald Trump, has demonstrated many times that he is thoroughly unfit and unqualified to be president of this country.  However, the most recent comments from Trump bragging about sexually assaulting, and forcing himself on a married, woman were so vulgar and so crude that no one in good conscience could possibly welcome him as their party’s leader.


I am calling ...

Healthy Lifestyle in Later Life Means More Disability-Free Years

A 25 year study of almost 6000 people aged 65 and older published in the American Journal of Geriatrics found that those with healthy lifestyle habits lived out about 80% of their remaining years disability-free, while those with the least healthy lifestyles lived 55-60% of their remaining years disability-free. Healthy lifestyles meant longer, better lives.


Article summary: ...

The Mighty Barribal - Episode 37

Oliver B. Bomble, a gentleman of independent wealth, and his good friend Ocelot delve into the mystery of a mighty giant on a mission to set things straight in the world. The story is published in daily installments and will run until Election Day.  All previous installments can be found below the current episode.

Mr. Grandgrub firmly tucked his basket under his arm and hurried back ...

Volunteer Tutors Needed

October 22, 2016

Volunteers are needed to tutor young adults in science, math, social studies and English as part of the New Jersey Youth Corps high school equivalency and employment skills training program offered by Project Self-Sufficiency.  Opportunities are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  The New Jersey Youth Corps gives young adults the opportunity to ...

Girl Sexually Assaulted by Budd Lake Men for 7 Years, say Police

October 21, 2016

MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. - A 21-year-old woman's recent decision to report that she was sexually assaulted for seven years while she was a juvenile, led police to charge two Budd Lake men with aggravated sexual assaulted, it was announced Friday. 

The men, Ruben Ardila-Gomez, 33, of Budd Lake and Argemiro Ardila-Gonzales, 65, were also charged with endangering ...