North Carolina has lost 22 percent of its certified moving companies since state regulators began requiring criminal background checks and other measures to protect the public 2 1/2 years ago.
About 210 moving companies are operating in the state today with valid certifications from the N.C. Utilities Commission, which regulates in-state residential movers. When the commission adopted its criminal background requirement in 2008, the state had 270 certified movers for in-state residential hauling.
The commission sets rates by weight and distance and also requires moving companies to carry insurance. North Carolina does not regulate interstate moving or commercial moving.
Since the commission adopted stricter public safety measures, about 30 moving companies have voluntarily let their certificates lapse, many citing the new commission rules as an invasion of privacy and an onerous burden.
Another 30 moving certificates have been temporarily suspended by the utilities commission because these movers have missed compliance deadlines or have not paid as much as $1,000 in late fees. Those certificates could be renewed if movers submit the required information and pay their penalties in the coming months.
The original deadline to submit the background check was last April. At that time, half the state's movers had not complied. The commission later began levying fines to force movers to follow the new certification requirement.
The commission's rule requires moving company officers and owners to get a criminal background check. It does not apply to managers and rank-and-file company employees who may schedule moves, drive the trucks and handle possessions.
A criminal record does not automatically disqualify a moving company from doing business in the state, but alerts the commission about potential problems. A number of certified moving companies have officers with criminal backgrounds, said Bruce Ramaekers, the commission's transportation utilities analyst.
Under commission rules, the criminal background checks are confidential and not available for review by the public.
It's estimated that more than 200 movers operate in the state illegally, without a certificate from the commission. Such black market companies risk a $1,000 fine if they are caught.