NEWARK – The Division of Consumer Affairs today announced it has cited 21 unlicensed moving companies and fined each $2,500, following “Operation Mother’s Attic,” a covert sting in which Division investigators posed as consumers to catch moving companies suspected of operating without a license.
The undercover initiative was conducted in late October at a public storage facility in Bernardsville, where movers advertising on various websites were booked for a “job” transporting personal possessions from the storage facility to another location in the state.
During the five-day sting, several movers a day pulled up at the designated “job” site and were met by Division investigators, agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a transportation compliance unit of the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), and the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to the Notices of Violations (NOVs), the sting resulted in seven arrests by NJSP for possession of marijuana under fifty grams and one outstanding traffic warrant. Three individuals were detained for ICE violations.
“Public movers are often granted unfettered access to consumers’ homes, and entrusted with their most valuable possessions. To protect consumers from fraud and other risks, we must make sure these individuals are properly vetted and regulated through our licensing system,” said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “Operation Mother’s Attic is a proactive approach to weeding out and penalizing unlicensed movers who are operating outside the Division’s oversight.”
“Unscrupulous moving companies can be a nightmare for consumers,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “From negligently destroying valuable property to holding possessions hostage in exchange for exorbitant price increases, these bad actors can wreak havoc on people’s lives. The best way to avoid predatory movers is to make sure the companies you hire are licensed and in compliance with our consumer protection laws.”
State law requires all intrastate movers (those performing residential moves that both begin and end in New Jersey) to be licensed by the Division of Consumer Affairs. These movers must also protect consumers' goods by maintaining cargo liability insurance, workers' compensation insurance, and bodily injury and property damage insurance. They must register each moving vehicle they use in New Jersey, and keep the vehicles properly marked and insured, in compliance with State regulations. Movers also must provide consumers with a written estimate of the costs of the move. There are approximately 270 licensed intrastate movers in New Jersey.
The companies issued an NOV and $2,500 civil penalty are:
QMS PLUS PRO MOVERS, Paramus, NJ
HOUSE MOVERS, Secaucus, NJ
ARON DAY MOV. & DELIVERY, Nyack, NY
M&M MOVING & STORAGE, Woodland Park, NJ
ABC MOVING SERVICES, Phillipsburg, NJ
MOBILE MOVERS, Helmetta, NJ
RELOCATION SOLUTION MOVING, Old Bridge, NJ
SJS MOVING & TRANSPORTATION, Rahway, NJ
RUSH HOUR MOVING, Marlton, NJ
ROUND ONE MOVING, Trenton, NJ
SMART MOVE INDUSTRIES, Clifton, NJ
TOP MOVERS, Linden, NJ
R&B MOVERS, Runnemede, NJ
ACTION PIANO MOVING, New City, NY
KEYBOARD EXPRESS, Toms River, NJ
GO TO M&S, Staten Island, NY
DELTA RELOCATION, Union City, NJ
ELVIS DIRT CHEAP MOVING, Philadelphia, PA
TOP SHELF MOVERS, Raritan, NJ
MORRISTOWN MOVING SERVICES, Waldwick, NJ
MOVING SOLUTIONS, Bayonne, NJ
Three other companies are under review by the Division as a result of the sting operation.
The assessed civil penalty for unlicensed operation will be reduced to $1,250 for any mover that applies for State licensure within 30 days of receiving the NOV. Each mover also has the option of requesting mitigation to reduce the civil penalty or an administrative hearing to contest the Notice of Violation and civil penalty.
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.
Chief Investigator Edward George, Supervising Investigator Murat Botas and Investigators Vincent Buonanno, Christopher Spaldo, Brian Morgenstern, Jesse Maneiro, Roger Hines, and Barby Menna, of the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection, conducted this investigation.
Deputy Attorneys General Erin M. Greene and Russell M. Smith, Jr. of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, represented the Division in this matter.
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.