Too Many Victims of Superstorm Sandy Hurt Again by Criminal Contractors
Senator Robert Singer (R-Ocean, Monmouth) has introduced legislation that would require home improvement and home elevation contractor in New Jersey to undergo comprehensive criminal history background checks.
Following Superstorm Sandy rebuilding fraud, Sen. Bob Singer has introduced legislation that would require home improvement and home elevation contractors to undergo comprehensive criminal history background checks. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)
“Following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of New Jersey homeowners looked for contractors to rebuild and lift their homes to prevent damage in future storms,” said Singer. “Unfortunately, shady contractors were drawn by billions of dollars of state and federal disaster aid, insurance checks, and the personal savings that residents sought to invest in their homes. Due to lax state registration laws, too many Sandy victims also became the victims of fraud, which is something that we can and must address.”
A recent investigative series by the Asbury Park Press, Crooked contractors, highlighted the extent of the problem.
A key concern is the nomadic nature of the construction industry. Contractors often move from state to state, and from disaster zone to disaster zone, following the money and leaving when people start to complain about not receiving the work that was paid for.
Singer’s legislation would close loopholes that shady home improvement and home elevation contractors exploit by subjecting all to the requirements of the Contractors’ Registration Act.
Rather than trust that contractors will truthfully disclose convictions that would disqualify them from successfully registering as contractor, the legislation would require checks of criminal history records with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Identification in the Division of State Police.
“Too many people think that a contractor who displays a state registration certificate has been subjected to a real criminal background check,” said Singer. “Unfortunately, that’s not currently the case. By requiring the background checks that we’ve proposed, we can make it harder for criminal contractors to prey on the good people of New Jersey.”
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