May. 16, 2011 Officials from the Hudson County Office of Consumer Affairs camped out in the parking lots of two home improvement stores last Friday and waited for contractors who did not have a valid registration number on their vehicles to show up.
Before their operation was over, 10 home improvement contractors had been issued 30-day warnings to get their paperwork in order.
The operation was part of a statewide crackdown on non-compliant contractors, according to the Division of Consumer Affairs.
That crackdown has yielded $133,500 in civil penalties against 25 contracts and another 130 30-day warnings.
Thirty-nine of those issued warnings have come into compliance. Those who do not comply face a $10,000 penalty for the first offense.
“We will continue our monitoring and enforcement efforts through the spring and summer, which tends to be the height of the contractor season,” state Attorney General Paula T. Dow said in a prepared statement.
Home improvement contractors in New Jersey must have a valid state registration number (always beginning with 13VH), have liability insurance and provide a business address, as well as other information. In March and April, 1,277 contractors have applied for registration numbers, which the division says is a 19 percent increase over the same period in 2010.
“Each year, dishonest or shoddy contractors rip off consumers for thousands of dollars. New Jersey's registration law helps consumers know they're working with a properly insured and registered business, before they sign a contract or make a down payment,” Dow said.
Undercover operations have been conducted in Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic and Somerset counties so far. Similar operations will soon be conducted in Mercer and Ocean counties.