For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2012
Consumer task force checks for compliance
Consumer Affairs inspects used car dealers and home contractors
FREEHOLD, NJ – Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs conducted two task force operations this September as part of its ongoing mission to protect consumers from fraud and dishonest and unscrupulous business practices.
“The county Consumer Affairs staff has been out and about conducting random investigations with home improvement contractors and auto dealers to inspect them for compliance with the applicable state consumer statutes and regulations,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said.
On Sept. 12, thirty home improvement contractors were issued warning notices for failure to display a New Jersey Home Improvement Contractor (NJ HIC) registration number on their vehicles.
“The contractors now have 30 days to have their individual registration number put on their vehicle and provide photographic proof on compliance with this regulation,” county Consumer Affairs Director Annmarie Howley said. “Any contractor who was not registered with the state must also complete and file the NJ HIC application form within the same 30 days.”
Any contractor who does not provide proof of correcting the deficiencies could be issued a summons and a fine of up to $10,000.
“To date, more than half of the home improvement contractors that received warnings have sent us photographs of their vehicles,” said Howley. “Consumers should make sure that anyone contractor they hire has a NJ HIC registration number on their vehicle and all paperwork.
On Sept. 17 and 18, twenty new and used car dealers were visited by Howley and her staff.
This task force focused on ensuring that dealerships were conspicuously posting the selling prices of every motor vehicle offered for sale and posting the Used Car Buyer’s Guide in every used motor vehicle offered for sale. These requirements are part of federal and state regulations that include the Automobile Information Disclosure Act and NJ Consumer Fraud Act.
"Of the 20 dealerships visited, only half were in compliance,” Howley said. “We provided copies of the relevant statutes and regulations about new and used automobiles. We will make a return visit to each of the dealerships that were found to be in non-compliance.
Dealerships who fail to comply with all applicable statues and regulations can be penalized and fined up to $10,000.
Howley reminds consumers to look for the Used Car Buyer’s Guide and head its advice when considering the purchase of a previously-owned vehicle.
“We want our local businesses to be in compliance and to be serving our consumers responsibly,” Burry said. “The county’s Department of Consumer Affairs can help if you believe that you have been a victim of fraud or other bad business practice.”
For more information, contact Monmouth County Consumer Affairs at 732-431-7900. Additional information about consumer affairs can be found on the county website at www.visitmonmouth.com.
The office is located on the first floor of the Hall of Records Annex, One East Main St. in Freehold and is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For much more information on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ statutes and regulations, view the Division’s website at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov.
The Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs is a law enforcement agency, created and funded by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders. It protects against consumer fraud and dishonest and unscrupulous business practices by enforcing the state Consumer Fraud Act and other regulations.
“The county’s Consumer Affairs office enforces consumer laws and helps people whether violations are present or not,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the department. “So far this year, the department mediated 422 complaints and recovered more than $945,157 for consumers. This is one of the many important ways the county is able to assist residents.”
Mediation includes letters, telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and informal conferences with businesses. If a business is uncooperative and does not appear as scheduled, the department has the authority to subpoena, a function coordinated with the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
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