HOUSTON (TxDMV) – As if moving wasn’t already stressful enough, now consumers are being warned to watch out for illegal moving companies that may be out to take a person’s personal belongings on a permanent vacation.

As the summer moving season gears up, state and moving industry officials cautioned Texans to do their homework before hiring a moving company and encouraged the law enforcement community to take note of a new state law that imposes fines and jail time against unlicensed movers.

More than 60 percent of the moving complaints received at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) deal with unlicensed movers. To operate legally, a moving company must display a valid TxDMV (TxDMV licenses moving companies) or United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) license number on the truck.

Perhaps the best advice is the most basic: always know who you are dealing with before starting a move.

“[Consumers] need to stop for a minute and ask themselves ‘Who am I about to let into my home?’ because it might just be some guy living in a basement or with a criminal record who is going to show up with a rented moving truck to cart off everything you own,” said Linda Bauer Darr, president and CEO of Virginia-based American Moving & Storage Association.

And where should you never go to hire a mover? Free internet advertising sites, said John Trevino of the Houston Police Department’s Special Investigation Command.

Before hiring a moving company, Texans can find out whether the company is licensed by going to Moving Companies on the TxDMV website.