New Jersey sting operation targets unlicensed movers

Nina Pineda reports for 7 On Your Side
Seven On Your Side
January 13, 2014 2:45:41 PM PST
Authorities say an undercover sting operation by the state of New Jersey has found 26 unlicensed moving companies are violating state law.

26 violations at $2500 a pop, were doled out during "Operations Mother's Attic" to unsuspecting, unlicensed and uninsured operators advertising on Craigslist and other websites as movers.

"They were greeted by our consumer protection investigators, the state police transportation and compliance unit to check their trucks and make sure they were fit and roadworthy. They were greeted by agents with U.S. Customs and enforcement, to confirm whether or not there were outstanding warrants," said New Jersey Consumer Affairs director Eric Kanefsky.

Two of the people trying to get in your home had warrants and were arrested.

Kanefsky says moving horror stories are one of their biggest complaints in the state which is why they need to weed out the scofflaws.

"So that we can avoid problems down the line with people being held hostage or their goods being held hostage for bait and switch tactics taking place," said Kanefsky.

To avoid getting ripped off, always have movers do an on-site survey and compare at least 3 written estimates.

None of the companies showing up offering services provided estimates in writing beforehand which is required by law.

Many movers showed up in rental trucks. Moving trucks have to be registered and properly insured. One truck being driven had to be condemned due to dangerous safety violations.

Illegal movers often scam customers by tacking on charges at the end of the move, so make sure you get additional costs, like for going up steps," in writing" and sign off on what's called a Binding Estimate.

Make sure you don't pack valuables, like cash or important documents, and look into more protection. Purchasing additional insurance through a third party is best.

Movers only have to compensate 60 cents per pound, and if something happens you don't get want an unscupulous move to have the last laugh.

And our last tip: at the end of your move, inspect everything for damages. You only have 90 days to file a claim once your goods are delivered.

"Horror stories about predatory movers are all too common. By its very nature, the moving industry touches the lives of consumer when they are vulnerable and when they must rely on strangers to transport their valued possessions," Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said. "These situations create the potential for abuse. We are enforcing New Jersey's licensing laws in order to protect consumers and, just as importantly, to ensure a level playing field for New Jersey's many honest and licensed moving companies."

The sting operation took place from November 19 through 22. In the preceding days, State Consumer Affairs investigators posed as consumers seeking to make an ordinary household move. The investigators booked appointments with suspected unlicensed movers who solicited work with online listings.

All 26 movers booked appointments with the investigators. They sent moving crews to a self-storage facility in Ledgewood, and unwittingly into the second phase of the sting. Upon arriving at the self-storage site, the unlicensed movers were confronted by Consumer Affairs investigators, and by investigators from the FMCSA, agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a transportation compliance unit of the New Jersey State Police.

The following moving companies are alleged to be unlicensed:

? 2 Men and a Truck, of Garfield

? A Few Good Guys With a Truck, of East Orange

? Active Moving, Inc., aka Manhattan Movers, aka Best Movers, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

? Alessi Moving, Inc., d/b/a Alessi Moving & Storage, of Stockholm

? Always Moving Services, Inc., aka NYC Affordable Moving, of East Orange

? Blue Star Moving & Storage, LLC, of Paterson

? Cardinal Moving, Inc., of Wayne

? Cheap as Heck Movers, LLC, of East Orange

? D&D Moving & Delivery, aka NNJ Moving Help, of Palisades Park

? Deliveries Made Correct Enterprise, LLC, aka Budget Movers, of East Orange

? E.J. Mayer Transportation Systems, Inc., d/b/a EJ Mayer Moving, of Westwood

? Elite Movers, of Paterson

? George's Moving & Trucking Co., Inc. aka George's & Son's Moving, of Rockaway

? Good Life Moving Services, of Orange

? Jaco Movers, LLC, of Middlesex

? Jesus Loves Moving, LLC, of Newark

? Just In Time Moving and Storage, Inc., of Kenilworth

? Lakewood Movers, LLC, of Lakewood

? M4U Inc., d/b/a Moving For You, of Ridgefield

? Metro Movers, LLC, of Jersey City

? Morristown Moving Services, LLC d/b/a M.M.S Delivery Service, aka MMS Moving Service, LLC, of Waldwick

? Moving Help, aka A1 Movers, of Parsippany

? Plantwurx aka Van & a Man, of Fort Lee

? Practical Movers, Inc., aka South Jersey Movers, Inc., of Philadelphia, P.A.

? Shamrock Moving & Storage, Inc., of Galloway

? TLC Movers, LLC, of Marlboro

Advice for Consumers:

Before hiring a mover, review the tips available from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. They include:

? Call the Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 to verify the license status of any mover you consider hiring. Ask whether consumer complaints have been filed 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 60 cents per pound, per article, for damages.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.