NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General announced on August 20 that 29 unlicensed movers, including one from Toms River, have been issued Notices of Violation (NOV) and a $2,500 civil penalty each for operating without licenses.
These 29 movers were tracked down through a state-led sting operation, known as “Operation Mother’s Attic.” The sting took place over four days in April and involved investigators posing as individuals planning to move out of the town of Montville. These investigators, from the Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”), hired these unlicensed movers online and directed them to their location in Montville. The movers were then issued NOVs for operating without a license.
“An unlicensed moving company can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare,” said Attorney General Grewal. “They’ve been known to hold truckloads of property hostage until the customer pays an extortionate fee. And these unlicensed movers often don’t carry adequate insurance, creating the risk that homeowners will be left high and dry if their property is seriously damaged during the move. That’s why we regulate the industry – and why we crack down on rogue operators.”
At the location, the State Police’s Mobile Safety Freight Unit performed vehicle safety inspections, where they found 29 vehicle violations, two individuals were arrested for outstanding warrants, and another for having marijuana in their possession. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tried to verify that out-of-state movers were registered with the FMCSA to engage in interstate operations.
“Operation Mother’s Attic is a proactive effort to identify and weed out movers doing business outside the Division’s oversight,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By requiring movers to abide by our state’s public movers’ licensing laws, we are protecting consumers against fraud and other risks.”
One of the movers that were cited is from Toms River, NJ, called Consider It Done. Seven of the 29 were New York moving companies.
Each of the movers can seek mitigation or contest the NOV and civil penalty in court if they so choose. According to the Attorney General, the $2,500 penalty will be reduced to $1,250 for any mover that applies for licensure with the Division within 30 days of receiving the NOV.
State officials offer this advice for consumers:
- Call the Division of Consumer Affairs to verify the license status of any mover you consider hiring
- Ask whether consumer complaints have been submitted against the mover.
- Obtain a written estimate from the mover you select. The cost can be estimated on an hourly rate, by weight and miles traveled, or by cubic measurement.
- Never pack jewelry, money, or valuable documents with your goods to be moved. The mover is not responsible for items of extraordinary value.
- Check your goods as they are being delivered. If any are lost or damaged, notify the mover immediately. A damage claim can be filed up to 90 days after the move date.
- Unless you purchase additional coverage, the mover is required to compensate you only up to $1 per pound, per article, for damages.
If you believe you have been scammed by a business, or have experienced another form of consumer abuse, file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200.