National Consumer Protection Week Announcement # 1:
NJ Division of Consumer Affairs Goes on the Offensive Against
Unregistered Home Improvement Contractors;
54 Warnings Issued
NEWARK - To prepare for spring, the peak season for home improvement work, the
State Division of Consumer Affairs last week launched a proactive effort to seek out
unregistered home improvement contractors, and warn them to get into compliance with
the law, or face fines up to $10,000 each.
Under New Jersey's Contractors' Registration Act, home improvement contractors must
register with the state and obtain a registration number that begins "13VH "
Contractors must display that number on their signage, including signs on commercial
vehicles, as a reference for consumers. To register, a home improvement contractor
must provide proof of liability insurance and disclose a legitimate business address.
Complaints about dishonest or shoddy home improvement contractors are the secondmost
common type of complaint the State Division of Consumer Affairs received from
consumers in 2010, representing 1,401 of the 13,761 consumer complaints the Division
"Each year, phony contractors and unregistered contractors rip off hundreds of New
Jersey consumers, leaving them on the hook for as little as $200 to as much as
$100,000 or more. When contractors register with the state, they provide consumers
with a valuable tool that helps them learn about the company's background and make
an informed choice before letting a contractor into their home," Attorney General Paula
T. Dow said.
The undercover effort announced today, which includes using a pickup truck disguised as a home improvement contractor’s truck, represents a fresh, aggressive approach to addressing the problems posed by the thousands of New Jersey contractors who refuse to register with the State. State Consumer Affairs investigators, in tandem with county and municipal Consumer Affairs investigators, are scouting the parking lots of home
improvement stores, hardware stores, and other places across the state where
contractors congregate, seeking out those who advertise that they perform home
improvement work but fail to display a state registration number.
"We're going on the offensive," said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State
Division of Consumer Affairs. "In the past, we would take action against the
unregistered contractor only as consumer complaints were received. No longer. Now,
we're taking the fight to them. If you are a home improvement contractor, and you?re
operating outside of the law, we?re coming after you. And if you don't fall in line, you'll
Since the undercover operation began March 2, investigators issued warnings to 54
contractors in Essex, Gloucester, Morris and Warren counties. State Consumer Affairs
investigators worked in partnership with the Gloucester and Essex County Offices of
Consumer Affairs. In each case, the contractor advertised for home improvement work
with signs on a commercial vehicle, but failed to display the "13VH" number that proves
the contractor is registered. With each warning, contractors were ordered to get into
compliance ? by registering with the state if they were not already registered, or by
displaying their number on the signage if they were registered within 30 days or face
fines up to $10,000 each.
Home improvement contractors who have yet to register with the State, are urged to do
so immediately by using the materials available at
Consumers looking to hire a home improvement contractor can check the online
database of all approximately 43,000 registered home improvement contractors
statewide at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/LVinfo.htm.
NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK (NCPW) is a coordinated campaign
that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights
and make better-informed decisions. NCPW 2011 takes place March 6 through 12,
More information designed to help consumers protect themselves is offered free of
charge at the State Division of Consumer Affairs NCPW website at
www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov. Information is also available at the official National
Consumer Awareness Week website, www.NCPW.gov.
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, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) Ticket Sample