PATERSON, NJ -  Two city businesses were among 14 from around New Jersey caught in a state Consumer Affairs sting aimed at home improvement contractors that lack proper registration documents.

Cacciola Iron Works faces a possible $5,000 fine for not being registered, while Castillo Roofing, or Castillo Home Improvements, received a warning for posting incomplete or incorrect registration numbers.

The state’s Contractors’ Registration Act (CRA) which took effect on January 1, 2006, requires all contractors performing residential work to register annually with the Division of Consumer Affairs. In order to register, contractors are required to disclose where their business is located, provide proof they have insurance, and use contracts containing specific consumer protection language for all projects costing more than $500.

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Attorney General Paula T. Dow said: “Homeowners can spend thousands of dollars on home repairs and renovations and I am committed to rooting out phony contractors and unregistered contractors who attempt to rip off consumers.”

Consumer Affairs investigators used a vacant Morris County house as a residence in need of major renovations.  Undercover investigators contacted suspected unregistered contractors to come to the residence, inspect it, and provide estimates for various improvements. The contractors were identified through print and online advertisements.

The proposed home improvement work included driveway repaving, basement renovations and waterproofing, installation of new wood floors, bathroom renovations, masonry repairs, and installation of a new fence. The estimates for projects ranged from $1,180 to $14,000.

For more details about the sting, check the Consumer Affairs press release.

“Homeowners throughout the state continue to fall prey to home improvement contractors operating outside the law,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the Division of the Consumer Affairs. “Knowing that the company is legitimately registered helps to ensure that it’s not a fly-by-night operation, that it’s properly insured, and that there’s someone accountable should the repair or renovations go wrong.”

There are approximately 43,000 registered home improvement contractors statewide.

The Division has an online database of registered home improvement contractors that the public can access to verify whether a contractor is registered. The database can be found at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/LVinfo.htm. Consumers can also call 973-273-8090 to access the Division’s license verification system.

Consumers are asked to report any suspected unregistered home improvement contractor to the Division via its web site, http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/ or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within N.J.) or 973-504-6200.