North Carolina Movers Association Releases North Carolina House Bill That Cracks Down on Illegal Moving Companies

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Illegal movers operating in North Carolina will have to think twice before advertising their services to the general public. This past June, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified House Bill 311 that will aid in putting advertising and vehicle identification restrictions on non-certificated and non-licensed (illegal) movers across the State.

Taking action because someone without authority is advertising is simpler than taking action because someone has performed an illegal move.

Illegal movers operating in North Carolina will have to think twice before advertising their services to the general public. This past June, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified House Bill 311 that will aid in putting advertising and vehicle identification restrictions on non-certificated and non-licensed (illegal) movers across the State. Since late 2010, the executive committee and board members of the North Carolina Movers Association (NCMA) worked in conjunction with State Representatives to author a new law that would penalize illegal movers in an effort to protect the general public from hiring non-professional moving companies.

The House Bill 311 will become effective October 1, 2011 to be enforced by the state Utilities Commission. A primary facet of the law that directly affects the general public will penalize any unlawful, un-certificated person who operates as a carrier of household goods within the state that advertises services on vehicle placards, phone books, print media, Internet, billboards or business cards. If this law is violated, persons will receive a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for violating this section of the bill.

The other facet that directly will affect the moving industry requires certificated movers to properly mark vehicles with company name, city and North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) license number in three-inch letters. If the vehicles are used for interstate traffic, certificated movers will need to add DOT and MC license numbers near their company in the same size as their NCUC number. If moving persons violate this law, they will be subject to a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for the first offense, and no more than $2,000 per subsequent offense.

“We are pleased to see legislation which provides protections for the public,” said Carol Kimball Shahl, director of the Transportation Rates Division the NC Utilities Commission Public Staff. “Taking action because someone without authority is advertising is simpler than taking action because someone has performed an illegal move. Un-certificated movers typically avoid leaving the paper trail we need for proof of the illegal move, which has limited our ability to pursue such companies and individuals.” This is a growing concern across the country as more consumers are affected by illegal scams. In an USA Today article published on July 27, 2011, “The Better Business Bureau received more than 8,900 complaints against both licensed and unlicensed movers in 2010 – a 5 percent increase over 2009.” States including California, New Jersey, Illinois and Maryland also are putting legislation in place to protect the public from un-certificated moving scams.

Tom Hunnicutt, president of NCMA and owner of Gasperson Moving and Storage, an Asheville moving company said, “Limiting the ability to legally advertise will result in fewer individuals operating illegally. Currently, someone interested in moving to North Carolina could look in any phonebook within the State, on the internet or on Craigslist and unknowingly contact a mover who has no license, or no insurance and have that person load up all of one’s possessions and drive away with them. That, to me, is a scary proposition, because the average customer assumes that since a business advertises, it must be legitimate.”

Barry Kampe, a resident of Buncombe County recalls his firsthand experience with a local illegal mover, “We should have known when they attempted to bill us for more than they quoted for items that were outside of our control. Then, we had several items that were significantly damaged. They wanted to handle everything themselves. They had a friend of a friend that could repair the items for dirt-cheap, ‘no need to bother with insurance’ is what I recall them saying. As we did some digging after the move, we soon found out they were unlicensed and un-insured hence, the reason for their unwillingness to handle through insurance!”

Un-certificated and un-insured movers can occur on the national, state and local levels. Consumers looking to relocate to a new city or state need to make sure the company or persons they hire are properly licensed and insured.

House Bill 311 was authored by state representatives Susan Fisher and Ruth Samuelson and supported by Maggie Jeffus and Daniel McComas.

About North Carolina Movers Association
The North Carolina Movers Association is the only association in North Carolina that is devoted solely to the household goods industry. Our current membership is in excess of 150 certificated household goods carriers. Our Board of Directors is elected annually from the membership each year for a three year term and is lead by a President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer.  Our association has been in existence since 1954.   For more information, go to http://www.ncmovers.org. 

Tips for Avoiding Illegal Mover Scams
– Don’t book your mover from a print or online ad only. Meet your mover prior to deciding to hire one.

– Make sure you acquire at least three quotes from different moving companies so you can compare their services and pricing. If a price seems too low, there is probably a reason for that.

– If you are hiring for an interstate move, check for a ProMover logo, which indicates that the moving company has passed an annual check for felony convictions, improper advertising and good Better Business Bureau ratings in regards to interstate moving.

– Ask for the company’s State Utilities Commission number. Go to the North Carolina Utilities Commission website to check their number at http://www.ncuc.net/consumer/transportation/ConsumerGuide.htm.

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