Will Help Protect Consumers From Post Sandy Fraud
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem) that would revise the “Contractors’ Registration Act” to require state-issued identification badges for home improvement contractors today cleared the Senate Commerce Committee.
“New Jersey has shown remarkable resilience and caring in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” said Sweeney. “Unfortunately, there are always going to be individuals who will take advantage of times like these for their own personal benefit. By requiring a picture ID, we are adding another layer of protection for storm victims against fraud.”
The bill, S2363, would require a home improvement contractor to wear a state-issued identification badge whenever the contractor is performing, engaging, or attempting to engage, in making or selling home improvements. The badge would be issued by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs within the Department of Law and Public Safety. It would include a color photograph of the contractor’s face, the contractor’s name, the contractor’s registration number, and the name of the contractor’s business. If a contractor’s license were suspended he/she would have to surrender the badge and it would be a fourth degree crime to use a badge not properly authorized by the state.
The legislation is intended to help consumers avoid fraud, particularly in light of Hurricane Sandy. The storm devastated over 300,000 homes in New Jersey, and 1,200 new applications for contractor registration have been submitted to the Division of Consumer Affairs, with many applicants coming from other states. In the aftermath of Sandy, New Jersey residents are even more vulnerable to unscrupulous, fly-by-night contractors who take advantage of residents in need of immediate home repairs.
The legislation now heads to the Senate floor.