After the Storm: Use Caution When Hiring Contractors
As New Jerseyans clean up from the rains and flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene, Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company suggests some tips to protect you and your property from unscrupulous contractors.
“It is not uncommon for unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of people who have experienced a catastrophic event,” said Bill Ballinger, president of Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company. “Recovery is about partnership. It takes the government, businesses, and private citizens. So what we need is partnership, not price gouging."
According to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, New Jersey’s price gouging law automatically activated when Gov. Christie declared a state of emergency. The law deems price increases excessive if they are more than 10 percent higher than the price at which a good or service was sold in the usual course of business prior to the state of emergency.
Ten tips to avoid getting scammed:
1. Take your time in choosing true professionals to repair your home.
2. Get estimates from several licensed, bonded contractors.
3. Check their credentials with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs or your local Better Business Bureau.
4. Inspect contractors’
5. Get a contract or estimate in writing.
6. Avoid paying money up-front. Some reputable contractors will require partial, up-front payment, but these pre-work payments should not exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total estimate.
7. Follow local building codes and inspection procedures.
8. If anyone performs unauthorized work on your house or property and demands payment, consider contacting local authorities.
9. Do not sign over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.
10. Immediately report any suspicious behavior to local law enforcement or the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
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 New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting www.nj.gov/oag/
About Allstate New Jersey
Known through the “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®” slogan, Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company and its affiliates help individuals in more than a half million New Jersey households protect what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow through approximately 270 agents and financial representatives. Customers can access Allstate New Jersey products and services through Allstate agencies, or at allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®. The Allstate Financial Group provides life insurance, supplemental accident and health insurance, annuity, banking and retirement products designed for individual, institutional and worksite customers that are distributed through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, financial institutions and broker-dealers.