After the major storm last week flooded the Greenbriar adult community in Brick Township, Ocean County Consumer Affairs Officials have set up daily patrols in that area looking for "predatory illegal contractors".

Ocean County investigators recently identified an unregistered Newark-based contractor soliciting work in the development.

"We found that this particular contractor had not registered with the state, which is a 4th degree indictable offense," Freeholder Joe Vicari said. "He was issued a warning and given 30 days to register. If he does not comply, he will be issued a summons."

Vicari asked the Consumer Affairs Department to patrol Greenbriar in an effort to protect residents from suspicious contractors.

"Like we saw, and are still seeing in the wake of Super Storm Sandy, there are always those individuals out there looking to take advantage of people during a traumatic time," Vicari said. "We want these so-called contractors to know that we are watching and we will do whatever is necessary to protect our residents."

Even though these measures are in place Vicari wants homeowners to protect themselves as well and be alert for illegal activity.

If you're having some doubts about getting repairs done, officials suggest that before you hire a home improvement contractor, call the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs to check whether they're registered with the state of New Jersey and if there are any complaints filed against them.

Then be sure to get a copy of the contractor's liability insurance policy and call the insurer to make sure the policy is still valid.

New Jersey law requires a signed contract be given for any home improvement work over $500.00.

Consumers are advised not to sign anything unless they understand and agree to all of the terms and conditions, including the fine print.

Vicari wants you to be sure you carefully review the list of materials that will be used.

"Never pay the full price up-front," Vicari said. "It is common practice to pay one third of the price prior to the start, halfway through, and at the end of the work, once you have inspected the job and are satisfied with everything. Always pay with a check never with cash."

The Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs can be reached at (732)929-2105 or you can visit them at www.co.ocean.nj.us/Consumer.

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