New Jersey may never be totally safe from the bane that is unlicensed moving companies. But thanks to the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs, the New Jersey State Police, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, residents of the Garden State may sleep just a little sounder tonight.
Twenty-six unlicensed moving companies … were cited for allegedly violating state law, and were assessed civil penalties of $2,500 each, as the result of an undercover sting operation.
Operation Mother's Attic focused on moving companies that solicited intrastate moves—from point to point within New Jersey—without a state license. FMSCA filed its additional penalties [of $25,000] against two of the movers because they performed interstate moves without having the federal operating authority necessary to perform interstate transportation.
"Horror stories about predatory movers are all too common. By its very nature, the moving industry touches the lives of consumers when they are vulnerable," [said an acting attorney general].
The unlicensed movers were confronted by Consumer Affairs investigators—and by investigators from the FMSCA, agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a transportation compliance unit of the New Jersey State Police.
Some of the unlicensed movers even had the audacity to appear with rented U-Hauls instead their own vehicles. Others advertised on Craigslist.
For all the talk of "predatory movers," New Jersey does little more to protect consumers than require movers to acquire insurance (and pay fees to the state). Of course, people are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves whether they want to pay extra for an insured mover.
Just a few days ago, my wife and I hired two gentlemen to help us move apartment. They were pleasant, efficient, and cheap, but their license and insurance status remains obscure to us. I'm glad no one from the state showed up to protect us from them.
The plight of the unlicensed mover (and general contractor and barber and taxi driver and …) is of national significance. In recent weeks a bevy of pundits have claimed that reluctance to extend federal unemployment benefits bespeaks a lack of sympathy for the unemployed. The unemployed want to work, we're told, but the jobs just aren't there.
Yet surely some nontrivial number of those missing jobs are killed by regulation. Where's the sympathy for would-be entrepreneurs?
And speaking of the criminalization of honest work, Warren Meyer over at Coyote Blog has some words about federal licensing of interstate movers as turf protection for big moving companies.