Consumer Watch

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"

Winning a Prize/Lottery

You just received wonderful news. You just "Won a Prize!" Here's some words of caution:

  • Please do not give your credit card or checking account number to the caller.
  • Remember you never have to pay for a prize. Free means free; so don't pay for postage, shipping or handling or any other costs.
  • Never feel pressured to act immediately to receive that "special offer."

Charities:  Which do I choose?

charity donation canThe majority of charities are reputable, but there are some organizations are what we call fake charities.

Beware of callers who say a messenger or delivery service will pick up your contribution. Never give to a charity you know nothing about. Always ask for literature. Some charities sometimes hire professional fund raisers. These fund raisers may keep as much as 90% of the money raised as fees and expenses. Ask the solicitor if a professional fund raiser is being used and if so, what percentage of the total amount contributed will actually go the charity which is asking for your help.

If you would like to find out if a charity is registered, whether it uses a professional fund raiser, or has a history of complaints, call the Charities Hotline at 973-504-6215.

Hiring a Contractor

All home improvement contractors are required to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs. Contractors are required to pay a registration of $90.00, complete a detailed application form and include proof of liability insurance in a minimum amount of $500,000 per occurrence.

Project managers discuss progress of construction with foremanYou should also be aware of your right to cancel a contract at any time before midnight of the third business day after receiving a copy of the contract.

This too must be clearly noted on your contract which should let you know what you need to do if you decide to cancel. A written notice of cancellation by registered or certified mail is required or personally deliver the cancellation notice to the business. Be sure to get a receipt. Refunds must be made within thirty days of your cancellation notice. If your contractor is not registered, you will not be able to receive construction permits from your municipality.

Be sure you actually view the N. J. registration card. Verify the registration number that is printed on your contract. If you wish to check on a business' registration, visit the State Division of Consumer Affairs' website at Click on licensee search.

Special Note: To insure accuracy when using website, enter town where business is located, not name of business. You will receive an alphabetical listing of all businesses registered in that particular location.

Before Signing the Dotted Line - All home improvement contracts must contain:

  1. Business' full name and physical street address
  2. Description of all work
  3. Payment schedule - Recommend 1/3 deposit, 1/3 middle, 1/3 at the end of project
  4. Time Period - When work will begin and be completed by the seller
  5. If you are receiving a warranty - specify in writing what it is for and for what period of time.

Mail Order
Be careful of those charges!! Recently, we noticed an increase in shipping costs. Mailing an item to your home could exceed the cost of the merchandise itself. Remember to check out the details (refund policy, expected delivery date, and other charges).

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