NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- It's one of the most complained about consumer problems nationwide -- unlicensed moving companies, some offering bargain prices then holding your possessions hostage for thousands more.
New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs went fishing for illegal movers and netted dozens of movers allegedly breaking the law.
The undercover sting by New Jersey's Attorney General caught dozens of accused lawbreakers, everything from unlicensed movers to laborers working with outstanding warrants against them. The sting, dubbed Operation Mother's Attic, happened over a four-day period.
Investigators posed as homeowners planning a move from the neighborhood in Montville, but instead of finding a luxury home full of items to load, movers were met by state troopers and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The operation netted 29 unlicensed movers, each of which was issued a $2,500 fine. in addition, five vehicles were taken off the road because of serious safety violations, and two movers were placed under arrest for outstanding warrants.
The big takeaway is if you're doing a move within the state, call your state's Division of Consumer Affairs to find about whether your mover is licensed and insured.
Then, get written estimates from at least three movers. It's best to get a binding estimate in person, never over the phone.
And consider getting insurance. Unless you purchase additional coverage, the mover is only required to compensate you up a dollar per pound if there's damage.
According to NJ Consumer Affairs, the public movers cited for operating without a license are:
--PRICE MOVERS, Staten Island, NY
--ALPHA MOVNG SERVICES , Highland Lakes, NJ
--AFFORDABLE & ASSERTIVE MOVING & STORAGE, Pompton Lakes, NJ
--AVELAR TRUCKING, Landing, NJ
--BIN IT NJ, North Bergen, NJ
--CENTURION MOVERS, Willow Grove, PA
--CONSIDER IT DONE, Toms River, NJ
--CRUZ MOVES, Cinnaminson, NJ
--ENTERPRISE VAN LINES, Congers, NY
--GDK LOGISTICS a/k/a GDK INTERNATIONAL, Fairfield, NJ
--H & D TRANSPORTATION, Clifton, NJ
--HELPING HANDS MOVING, Newark, NJ
--I.D. NOBLE MOVERS a/k/a NOBLE ID MOVERS, Hackensack, NJ
--IMPERIAL MOVING & STORAGE a/k/a LION'S DEN ENTERPRISES, a/k/a INSIGNIA MOVING, New York, NY
--J & L MOVING, Hillside, NJ
--LITE MOVING, Franklin Square, NY
--MOVING GOOD, Little Ferry, NJ
--MOVING HERO, Rahway, NJ
--OLD COUNTRY VAN LINES, East Newark, NJ
--PRINCETON MOVERS a/k/a GREAT EASTERN MOVERS, Brooklyn, NY
--RENT A HELPING HAND, Pennington, NJ
--MUNDANZAS, Dover, NJ
--ROADWAY MOVING, Elizabeth, NJ
--ROUND CITY MOVING, Garfield, NJ
--ROSIE'S MASTER MOVERS, Cherry Hill, NJ
--TB MOVING a/k/a TB MOVING & STORAGE, Brooklyn, NY
--WE MOVE YOU, Maywood, NJ
--BIG MEN IN TRUCKS, Sloatsburg, NY
Each mover has the option of seeking mitigation or requesting an administrative hearing to contest the Notice of Violation (NOV) and civil penalty. The $2,500 civil penalty for unlicensed operation will be reduced to $1,250 for any mover that applies for licensure with the Division within 30 days of receiving the NOV.
Also, as a result of Operation Mother's Attic, the Division issued warning letters to three licensed public movers for alleged advertising violations:
--ADMIRAL VAN LINES, of Bayonne, was allegedly advertising as HOBOKEN MOVERS without being licensed to operate under that name.
--ALL PRO MOVING, of Hawthorne, was allegedly advertising as NJ LOCAL MOVING and ONE & ONLY MOVING without being licensed to operate under those names.
--DIRECT MOVERS, of Union City, allegedly did not include its license number in its advertisement.
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