The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Superstorm Sandy Task Fraud Task Force office at the Bayshore Activity Center in Middletown closed last Thursday, February 27, Acting Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced on Monday.
The Task Force Command Center had been set up in Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth, in February of 2012 to protect Sandy survivors from unscrupulous contractors and predators looking to defraud residents in the process of rebuilding their homes. Residents who continue to need such assistance are encouraged to visit the Task Force’s website, SandyFraud.com, or call the Task Force hotline at 855-SANDY-39 (855-726-3939).
Acting Prosecutor Gramiccioni urges everyone to keep in mind the following list of “red flag” situations when dealing with a Home Improvement Contractors:
- Do not do business with a contractor who does not have a New Jersey Home Improvement Contractor Number (NJHIC#). Home Improvement Contractors are required to register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and obtain an NJCIC#.
- Do not do business with a contractor who shows up uninvited to offer you a “special deal” or “hurricane discount.” Remember the old adage: “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.”
- Do not do business with a contractor who refuses to give you a written estimate.
- Do not do business with a contractor who refuses to give you a written contract. Under state law, home improvement contractors are required to provide a written contract for any project costing $500 or more, but the Monmouth County Superstorm Sandy Fraud Task Force recommends obtaining a written contract for all projects.
- Do not do business with a contractor who cannot provide you with verifiable HIC commercial general liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 per occurrence, as required by law.
- Do not do business with a contractor who asks for full payment up front. It is recommended instead that you pay a certain amount in advance with subsequent payments tied to stages of work completion.
- Do not do business with a contractor who demands cash. If you must pay in cash, insist on a dated receipt, signed by the contractor, reflecting the amount paid and the purpose of the payment.
- Do not do business with a contractor who offers to inflate your claim in order to save you the cost of your deductible. This is insurance fraud and it is illegal.
- Do not do business with a contractor who asks you to sign paperwork saying you will be responsible for the cost of labor/materials if the contractor fails to pay.
All County residents who suspect they might be a victim of criminal activity, civil fraud or improper business practices in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy are urged to contact the Monmouth County Superstorm Sandy Fraud Task Force online at SandyFraud.com or call at 855-SANDY39.