Predatory Movers Busted In Undercover Sting Operation
Following an undercover sting operation – dubbed “Operation Mother’s Attic II” – the state Attorney General’s Office and the Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs are charging 25 unlicensed moving companies – and assessing fines of up to 25 hundred dollars each.
Last month, Consumer Affairs investigators posed as consumers seeking to make a typical household move within New Jersey. The investigators booked appointments with known unlicensed movers who advertised on Craigslist, Angie’s List, and other online venues.
Twenty five allegedly unlicensed moving companies made appointments with the investigators, and 22 sent moving crews to a site in Highland Park, and unwittingly into the second phase of “Operation Mother’s Attic II.”
Upon arriving at the site, the unlicensed movers were confronted by Consumer Affairs investigators, and their vehicles were inspected by special transportation compliance units of the New Jersey State Police, who checked driver and vehicle records, and performed standard safety reviews.
State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says this was done because “predatory movers have been known to hold customers’ property hostage as a form of extortion, then demand thousands of dollars more than the price their customers originally agreed to pay – we are enforcing New Jersey’s licensing laws in order to protect consumers from this type of abuse, and protect the interests of the many movers who operate honestly and in compliance with the law.”
Under current state law, all movers who operate intra-state, from one area to another within New Jersey, must be licensed by the Division of Consumer Affairs. Licensed movers must protect consumers’ goods by maintaining cargo liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and bodily injury and property damage insurance. In addition, licensed companies must maintain a bona fide business address in New Jersey. They must register each moving vehicle they use in the state, and keep the vehicles insured and in compliance with inspection requirements, and movers must also provide consumers with a written estimate of the cost of the move.
Last year in Jersey, the Division of Consumer Affairs received 119 moving company complaints from consumers.
Before hiring a mover, you can review tips from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/brief/mover.pdf