Illegal Movers

If you’re considering making a household goods move in Georgia you need to beware. Illegal movers are a threat to you and your wallet. It’s an unfortunate truth but there are many unscrupulous men and women that operate as illegal and unauthorized movers.  

As a potential customer you book a move with the belief that you are being served by a company that is professional and trustworthy. However if the moving company is an unlicensed illegal mover, often referred to as gypsy or rouge movers, then you are at high risk

Georgia requires that all household goods movers be licensed and registered. Licensing does not simply mean having a business license. In order to be certified as a legally licensed mover, a potential licensee must pass scrutiny. They must provide the appropriate level of required insurance, submit a background check, provide inspection reports for their vehicles and attend a training class. In training potential licensees are instructed on how to properly operate their moving business under the rules, regulations and laws that govern the moving industry. Successful completion of training must be achieved prior to a mover being issued a Certificate.  The Certificate grants the mover legal authority to handle and transport a customer’s household goods. 

A licensed moving company is held to a higher standard than an unlicensed company. Legally certified movers must follow all state and federal regulations which means that they are more likely to take the necessary steps to protect your belongings.

As previously mentioned, a licensed moving company is required to carry sufficient insurance. By maintaining adequate insurance coverage customers are protected against catastrophic loss. Additionally a legitimate mover will have the experience and expertise to handle a customer’s move. They will also have the necessary equipment and know-how to pack, load and transport a customer’s belongings safely and efficiently.

Illegal movers are a public menace because they prey upon prospective patrons by agreeing to move furnishings at unrealistically low prices. Often unlicensed movers have inadequate insurance coverage or no insurance at all. They may refuse to process a customer’s claim for damage or loss or they may hold a customer’s possessions hostage for exorbitant and unexpected fees. Sometimes illegal movers never return the customers belongings instead they sell them and pocket the proceeds. So moving can be a caveat emptor business. That’s why it’s imperative that a potential customer makes sure that any move they consider be done by a legally licensed household goods mover.      

So if you’re looking for a moving company that’s trustworthy, that will protect your belongings and will move your valuables in as stress-free a manner as possible then be sure to choose a legally licensed moving company. The following recommendations will serve as a guideline for helping to select a qualified mover:

·         First, do your homework. Treat your move like you were making an investment. A wise customer understands that they must be their own advocate and investigator. Check with the governing regulatory agency to make sure that the mover is legitimate. In Georgia all intra-state household goods moves are regulated by the Georgia Department of Public Safety. As such a legitimate mover will have a Certificate granting moving authority. It would be wise to request a copy of the mover’s Certificate, again not to be confused with a business license.  

·         Thoroughly research and read reviews with consumer advocacy groups like Clark Howard, (, Angie’s List, ( and web sites like or The Better Business Bureau is also a good source of information. Ask the mover for several references from recently performed moves. By doing thorough research you’re likely to lessen the chances of having a stress filled and unhappy moving experience.  

·         Get quotes from several different moving companies. The estimate that you receive is exactly what it implies; it’s an anticipated expectation of what the mover thinks the cost of the move will be. In other words it’s the mover’s best guess based on the information you provide. It’s not uncommon for the original estimate to vary or differ from the final cost of the move. Unless a customer has secured a Binding Estimate or a Not To Exceed Estimate, (locked in prices), then the quoted estimate may not be the same as the final cost of the move.  And remember, the price quoted is not the only consideration in selecting a mover.

·         Read the documents and literature that the company provides. You should receive a pamphlet called “Moving Guide.” This will have valuable information. When requesting a moving quote you should obtain a written estimate which specifically details the cost for any materials and for the services that will be rendered. Having a written estimate which provides clear and unambiguous information will help you to compare costs and services from one company to another.

·         Ask the moving salesperson questions. Ask about the company’s moving experience. How long have they been in business?  How many moves do they make a year? If there is damage during the move ask how that is handled? It’s worth noting that claims handled by a third party tend to result in a negative moving experience. So a prospective customer should query a mover as to whether they process claims in-house or do they use a third party to handle their damage claims? Since damage claims are the number one grievance post move, and it happens even with the best moving companies, it’s highly recommended that you have a conversation with the company Claims Manager prior to booking the move.

By following these tips and by putting a little up front effort into selecting a reputable moving company, you can make sure that your move goes as expected and without any undue surprises. A legally licensed moving company will have the same objective as you: a worry free move where your household furnishings are transported from one place to another in a safe, timely and efficient manner.  

 About the Author

Robert West has extensive experience in the moving industry. Working for the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety, the Georgia Public Service Commission and the Georgia Department of Public Safety, Mr. West held regulatory authority over all intra-state household goods moves. He managed over 250 motor carriers with responsibilities covering all aspects of the moving industry. Audits, safety, licensing, damage claims and the training of new carriers were all part of his expertise. Additionally, Mr. West has worked for over a decade in the private sector managing the Claims Department for Mark the Mover, one of Atlanta’s top moving companies. Mr. West has also appeared in television spots and on the radio offering advice to customers about their moves.