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Division of Consumer Affairs
Press Release

Attorney General
Anne Milgram
Division of Consumer Affairs, Director
David Szuchman
   
For Immediate Release:
October 8, 2008
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
 
Consumers Advised to be Wary About
Chimney Repair Scams

NEWARK - As consumers prepare their homes for colder weather, the Division of Consumer Affairs is advising homeowners to be alert for chimney-related repair scams.

Anyone offering chimney cleaning and chimney repairs MUST be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor under state law. Consumers can check whether someone is registered through the Division of Consumer Affairs web site, http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/contractors/consumercont.htm or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within New Jersey).

Consumers must be given a written contract that specifies the work to be performed, the materials that will be used and the total price, for any home improvement project costing more than $500.

“As with any project, consumers should obtain more than one bid. Consumers should verify that different contractors are finding the same type of problem when performing the initial inspection, in addition to comparing estimated costs,” Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman said.

The Division of Consumer Affairs last year received 54 complaints related to chimney and fireplace repairs.

Consumer should be alert to the following scenarios as possible scams: Someone comes unsolicited to your home, offers to do a free inspection of your chimney and offers a “special deal” to fix an alleged problem Someone claims to be “working in the neighborhood” and has leftover supplies to repair your chimney today Someone unwilling to show you the problem area and explain the problem in detail

Consumers who have limited mobility and cannot climb ladders should be cautious about claims of loose bricks or missing mortar if someone goes onto their roof to inspect the chimney.

“Con artists make bogus claims about bricks and mortar knowing full well that some senior citizens cannot climb a ladder and verify the information,” Szuchman said. “That's why it's important for consumers to call registered chimney sweeps or chimney repairers and consider all the facts in their proposals before signing a contract.”

Consumers also should make sure all required permits have been issued by their municipal construction code office prior to the contractor beginning work.

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