Ocean County Press Release

IN THE WAKE of the historic flooding at the Greenbriar adult community in Brick Township, Ocean County Consumer Affairs officials are conducting daily patrols in the community, looking for "predatory illegal contractors," Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari said.

Recently our investigators identified an unregistered Newark-based contractor soliciting work in the development.

"We found that this particular contractor had not registered with the state, which is a 4th degree indictable offense," Vicari said. "He was issued a warning and given 30 days to register. If he does not comply, he will be issued a summons."

Vicari said he directed the Consumer Affairs Department to patrol Greenbriar in an effort to protect residents from shady contractors.

"Like we saw, and are still seeing in the wake of Super Storm Sandy, there are always those individuals out there looking to take advantage of people during a traumatic time," Vicari said. "We want these so-called contractors to know that we are watching and we will do whatever is necessary to protect our residents."

Vicari also reiterated the efforts homeowners can take to protect themselves.

Before hiring a home improvement contractor, call the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs to check whether the contractor is registered with the state of New Jersey and if there are any complaints filed against them.

Next, get a copy of the contractor's liability insurance policy. It is advisable to call the insurer to make sure the policy is still valid.

New Jersey law requires a signed contract be given for any home improvement work over $500.

Consumers should not sign anything unless you understand and agree to all of the terms and conditions, including the fine print. Be sure to carefully review the list of materials that will be used, Vicari said.

"Never pay the full price up-front," Vicari said. "It is common practice to pay one third of the price prior to the start, halfway through, and at the end of the work, once you have inspected the job and are satisfied with everything. Always pay with a check never with cash."

The Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs can be reached at (732)929-2105. The website is www.co.ocean.nj.us/Consumer.

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