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Authorities warn of post-storm scams

By Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 31 2012 09:19:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Nov 01 2012 06:43:48 AM CDT

Wednesday afternoon, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's office sent out a warning regarding storm-related price gouging and scams.

In the statement Christie said "We will not hesitate to impose the strictest penalties on profiteers who, in direct violation of our consumer protection laws, seek to capitalize on the misfortune of others in the midst of a crisis and recovery period."

Director of the state's Division of Consumer Affairs, Eric Kanefsky, added "New Jerseyans who suspect any violation of our consumer protection laws, including the home repair scams and charity scams that have been known to surface during times of disaster, should immediately contact the Division of Consumer Affairs.”

When it comes to home repair scams, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry has the following tips for homeowners:

Get the name and address of the company that person allegedly represents.

Get all details of the offer in writing and carefully review it.

Be sure you understand everything in the contract and that any verbal promises made are included in the contract.

Determine how long the company has been in business and call organizations with which the contractor is affiliated, such as NARI or other trade associations, to determine the firm's legitimacy.

Ask for references and contact each one.

Remember that any legitimate company that wants your business will be more than willing to allow you the time to do your homework. 

Don't fall prey to high-pressure tactics such as "this is the only chance you have," or "by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone."

The association adds things that should raise a red flag include if the person comes to your door unsolicited, if they request full payment before completing the work, if they give a post office box without a street address or phone number, and if promise they can complete the work more quickly and cheaply than others.

Allentown contractor Ramón Valentín said to always make sure the contractor shows his or her license and pictures of past work so you know the person or company you're dealing with is legit.