Investigators in New Jersey dubbed their mission Operation Mother’s Attic. They found the lawbreakers online, providing them with the address of a luxury home and a meeting time. When the trucks pulled up, local, state and federal law enforcement awaited. Who was the target of this cloak-and-dagger sting?
Not burglars or drug dealers but unlicensed intrastate moving companies. This week the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection announced it had caught 29 unlicensed movers, assessing fines from $2,500 to $5,000.
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In at least 10 states you can become a mover with no more than a truck, strong biceps and entrepreneurial spirit. But in New Jersey aspiring movers must submit extensive documentation to apply for a license, including proof of insurance, articles of incorporation, financial statements and samples of “all forms the business will use.” The license costs $400 and must be renewed annually. Movers must also submit semiannual disclosures detailing their prices. The Division of Consumer Affairs even dictates the font size and margins for these filings.
No surprise, then, that there are only some 320 licensed public movers in the state, or one per 28,000 residents. The result is that it costs more to move.
New Jersey says it conducted Operation Mother’s Attic to protect consumers against fraud and other risks. Attorney General
described one scam in which unlicensed movers "hold truckloads of property hostage until the customer pays an extortionate fee.” But extortion is already illegal in New Jersey.
Mr. Grewal also said unlicensed movers may lack adequate insurance, “creating the risk that homeowners will be left high and dry if their property is seriously damaged.” But consumers can decide for themselves if they’re willing to pay a premium for added protection—worth it to move a Steinway piano but maybe not your second-hand futon. Consumers can also research movers, starting with
reviews. The New Jersey Warehousemen & Movers Association publishes a list of movers who exceed the minimum standards and have a reputation for good service.
The best solution would be to repeal the licensing requirement. Laws should be enforced, but mountains of paperwork and regulation have done much better at driving good people out of state than making New Jersey less corrupt.
Published at Thu, 23 Aug 2018 22:59:18 +0000