The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that, during the first quarter of 2015, it has issued Notices of Violation to 31 contractors, seeking $397,776.60 in consumer restitution and civil penalties.
Consumer Affairs investigators cited 22 of the 31 contractors for not being registered with the Division as legally required. To become registered, a contractor must disclose the physical location of the business and provide proof of having a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance, among other requirements.
The 31 contractors issued Notices of Violation have been directed to pay a total of $266,526.60 in restitution to consumers, in amounts ranging from $400 to $81,050, for allegedly failing to complete work that consumers had paid for in advance, failing to refund deposits or other issues. The civil penalties assessed total $131,250.
For home improvement projects costing more than $500, the contractor must provide the consumer with a written contract with specific, detailed information including the project's agreed-upon price, the starting and ending dates, the scope of work; the contractor's business name, address, and registration number; and other required information.
Each of the contractors receiving a Notice of Violation has the opportunity to contest the assertion that he or she has violated the law, or the opportunity to correct the violation by desisting from any practices in violation of the law, paying a civil penalty and/or consumer restitution where required, and submitting an application for registration, if not registered. Each contractor also may contest the Division's assessment of consumer restitution.
Violators of the Contractors' Registration Act are subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first violation, and up to $20,000 for subsequent violations.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint online with the State Division of Consumer Affairs or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.