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County: Beware of Post-Sandy Scams, Price Gouging

The Burlington County Office of Consumer Affairs warns residents to be wary of phony charities and home improvement contractors.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with residents in the process of assessing the damage to their homes and property, the Burlington County Office of Consumer Affairs is alerting homeowners to be extremely wary of scams, price gouging and unscrupulous contractors.  

“Our residents have spent the last week preparing for and battling Hurricane Sandy,” said Freeholder Mary Ann O’Brien, liaison to the Officer of Consumer Affairs. “After surviving that, they now have to be prepared for the potential consumer abuses that often arise from these types of emergencies.”

County residents should be wary of the predatory activities of fly-by-night home improvement contractors, such as those who go door to door, demand to be paid up-front or paid in cash. Some of these contractors may even suggest the homeowner use a specific adjuster for an insurance claim. Homeowners should be sure to obtain the contractor’s state registration number and then call the county Consumer Affairs Office at 609-265-5054 to find out if the registration is valid and if there is a record of complaints.

Price gouging is a concern as well during the time after a disaster. Consumer Affairs has been alerted about a man driving a truck with out-of-state plates trying to sell generators at outrageous prices.

“We are concerned that this type of price-gouging scam is going on in multiple locations throughout the county,” said O’Brien. “Our residents should not purchase anything from people selling items at inflated prices—particularly from the backs of vehicles.”

The state has issued warnings about gasoline price gouging. The law prohibits an excessive price increase of 10 percent or more above the price at which it was sold just prior to the hurricane. New Jersey law also prohibits gas stations from changing the price of fuel more than once in a 24-hour period.

Natural disasters also often give rise to phony charities who falsely claim to be raising funds to assist victims. Residents should never give credit card or bank account information over the phone or to someone who may knock on their door. The Office of Consumer Affairs should also be contacted about a questionable charity that asserts it is collecting money to assist hurricane victims.

“Residents need to guard themselves against scammers posing as legitimate home improvement contractors,” O’Brien added, noting these also include “storm chasers”—those scam artists from other states who descend upon storm victims.

John November 06, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Just what we need people going around trying to take your money....sounds like the old days when Robin hood was in England....do not answer the door....
Cinnacide November 06, 2012 at 10:20 PM
The gas industry is gouging people? Get out of here.
ROBERT COLT November 07, 2012 at 09:26 AM
ANYONE NEED A GENERATOR? WHAT YOUR GOVERNOR DOES NOT REALIZE IS THAT ME, I WHO IS SELLING YOU A GENERATOR AT $200 OVER ACTUAL PRICE IS REALLY THE SAVIOR HERE! SO NEW JERSEANS.....FREEZE YOUR ASSES OFF BECAUSE IT IS NOT WORTH IT FOR ME, I , TO GO OUT OF MY WAY SEARCHING IN 12 DIFFERENT HOME DEPOT'S, LOWES, HARDWARE STORES AND MORE , JUST TO HELP YOU (SAVE YOU) FROM THIS DISASTER AND THE COLD. SO I GUESS YOU WILL REMAIN IN THE DARK AGES BECAUSE YOUR IDOT GOVERNOR WONT LET ME, I, AT ALL , MAKE A SMALL PROFIT FOR MY TIME , ENERGY AND LABOR.....NOR LET ANY NON-UNION OUT-OF-STATE CONTRACTORS HELP BAIL YOU OUT OF THIS ELECTRICAL NIGHTMARE!!!! IM SELLING GENERATORS LEGALLY......LAWFULLY AND AT A $300 MARK UP. AND IM DOING IT HERE RIGHT NOW !!!! BUY THIS GENERAC 3250 BRAND NEW GENERATOR SOLD TO ME IN PA FOR $460 FOR $460 WITH AN INSTALLATION FEE OF $300 AND WITH 2 ,5GALLON GAS CONTAINERS SOLD TO YOU AT COST.....$45.00 EACH I WILL GIVE YOU A RECEIPT FOR EVERYTHING. NO GENERATOR WILL BE SOLD WITHOUT THE GAS NOR THE INSTALLATION. THIS FIXES THE DUMB ASS GOVERNORS PRICE GOUGING RULES REAL FAST!!! ARREST ME FOR THAT???? I THINK NOT CALL FOR FREE DELIVERY. TOTAL PACKAGE $850 WITH A RECEIPT FROM MY COMPANY WITH A TAX ID # FOR FEMA TO REFUND YOU OF. IM A SAVIOR NOT A PRICE GOUGER......717-673-4464
JS November 07, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Guilty conscience, Robert? You felt the need to get on Patch at 4:26 am and post a pompous, grammatically incorrect diatribe on how you're not price-gouging when no one even knows who you are and what you're doing? And if this is supposed to be some kind of "ad" for your generator, I can't imagine the ramblings of a clearly angry person is going to make anyone pick up the phone and call you to be their "savior".

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