Illegal-moving services have become a prevalent problem for citizens and future residents of Texas.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), May and June are the hotspot times of the year for movers searching for a home in a new location. Texas is one of the busiest of these states, as it holds an annual rating of 1,600 new residents daily.
As a country, the United States has over 35 million residents moving to new locations annually, according to a BBB press release involving mover safety in the summer. Of the 7,000 registered moving companies in the nation, Texas holds 800 of those businesses.
Illegal services are best described as moving companies that are not licensed by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), said Adam Shaivitz, public information officer for the TxDMV. Texas law requires all companies offering a household good moving service must be registered with the state.
“The main issues with these unregistered companies, is that they can indeed hold people’s precious belongings for ransom if they wish,” Shaivitz said. “Over the year we see a large number of complaints about dangerous operations that occur.”
In most situations, an unregistered company can easily put a higher price on moving one’s goods prior to a fee being set, Shaivitz said. These kinds of situations can be dangerous as they can lead to people paying high wages in return for their belongings.
According to their website, TxDMV received over 150 complaints this year, 66 of which were regarding unregistered and unlicensed moving services.
“We investigate all complaints with non-properly-licensed movers,” Shaivitz said. “These situations can become scary and dangerous very quickly and we advise people to research movers beforehand.”
In 2014, over 9,000 nationwide complaints were made regarding price issues and lost or damaged property, said Jarrod Wise, communications manager with BBB in Central Texas.
“A good tip I can give people is to make sure they do plenty of research,” Wise said. “BBB has over 7,000 moving services logged in our database that can assist anyone in making a good decision with who they move with.”
All legitimate movers must have a number indicating they are registered on the truck, Wise said. Movers should also supply a proposal for a flat price so individuals know what to expect financially.
“Always have a written contract before you even allow anyone access with your belongings,” Wise said. “Oral contracts aren’t written, so they can be negotiated—always have written proof of price and expectations.”
The act of taking belongings hostage through pricing is usually a major characteristic of illegal movers, Wise said.
“If you go to BBB.org and simply type in your city, you can find so much information about what services are best for you,” Wise said.
Shaivitz said lack of knowledge and research are to blame for the perpetuation of illegal moving services.
“All confrontation can be avoided with research,” Shaivitz said. “You may pay more money in the end, but nothing can replace your lifelong belongings—so paying more for a good mover is always worth the price.”