A home repair sting staged after Tropical Storm Irene has resulted in charges against a dozen unregistered contractors in New Jersey.
The state Division of Consumer Affairs announced the results of its operation Wednesday
Investigators posing as homeowners responded to home repair advertisements after the August storm, inviting contractors to give repair estimates.
Twelve of the 16 contractors who came to the house in the Bergen County town of Lyndhurst to provide estimates were unregistered with the state.
Eight of the contractors had no business information on file. Four others had filed business records with the state but had not registered.
"It's a scam," said Mike Mirro, a licensed contractor NBC New York found repairing the Lyndhurst Elks Lodge basement Wednesday. "A lot of the times, they come in, they have have a lower bid than I do because they're not license, they don't have overhead. They don't pay insurance on their truck, on their business."
"It's a given," said homeowner Nola Woehrle. "Whenever there's a disaster you see these people, they've got unmarked trucks, and they come by, 'Hey, you need help with this?'"
Consumer Affairs Director Tom Calcagni says complaints about home improvement contractors are common, representing 400 of 13,800 complaints filed with the division in 2010.
"The fact they they're not registered, I mean, that is a red flag that this is not a contractor that is abiding by our consumer protection laws," said Calcagni.
Police said they are more alert than ever to make sure contractors are legitimate.