Elite Movers and Blue Star Moving & Storage, two Paterson based moving companies, have been slapped with $2,500 fine each for operating without license and without the requisite insurance required for moving companies.
Each company promoted its services through Craigslist and Angie’s List among other websites to solicit buyers moving within New Jersey. State agencies cracked down on the unlicensed movers through a series of sting operations that took place from November 19th through 22nd, 2013. Investigators contacted the companies, and setup appointments; the companies, despite having no license to do the move, agreed to perform the service.
The State’s law require every mover be licensed, and licensed movers must have insurance to protect consumer’s goods while transporting them. Movers are also required to provide written estimates to customers prior to a move.
“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,” said John Hoffman, the State’s attorney general. “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.”
In 2013 the Division of Consumer Affairs received 89 complaints from New Jerseyans which prompted the sting operation to ensure movers are abiding by State laws. The State’s Attorney General’s Office approximates the total number of licensed movers in the State to be 290; and it urges residents to call the division to check the license of moving company prior to hiring.
The State, which has joined in partnership with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, plans to reduce the fines for the companies that were fined by half if they decide to begin following the law by obtaining license: the fine would be reduced to $1,250 if they apply for license within 30-days. By joining the administration the State can more easily crackdown on unscrupulous movers; despite law requiring each vehicle to be licensed and insured some companies used rental trucks from U-Haul and Budget for their operations.
In total 26 companies were fined by the State in different municipalities under what is being termed as “Operation Mother’s Attic.”
“The goal of this undercover operation is to bring these moving companies into compliance with the law,” said Eric Kanefsky, the division’s director, in a statement. Companies fined can request a hearing if they dispute the findings.