Today, the FMCSA announced that the agency’s Moving Fraud Task Force has shut down five household goods moving companies in Florida, South Carolina and Maryland for holding customer’s items hostage and “failing to turn over records related to their investigations.”
The five movers who lost their authority to operate:
- Allegiant Van Lines, Inc., USDOT No. 1712687, based in Davie, Fla.;
- Northern Van Lines, Inc., USDOT No. 1147457, based in Cooper City, Fla.;
- Northeastern Vanlines, Inc., USDOT No. 1212003, based in Pembroke Pines, Fla.;
- United West Moving and Storage, Inc., USDOT No. 1827150, based in Anderson, S.C.; and
- Direct Movers, Inc., USDOT No. 1666092, based in Pikesville, Md.
The FMCSA began investigating Allegiant Van Lines after customers filed complaints that the company was holding their items hostage. Allegiant failed to respond to orders from the FMCSA to cooperate in an investigation. The company has been suspended from operating for at least a year. In addition, the FMCSA fined Allegiant $88,000 for commercial and safety violations.
During the investigation into Allegiant, FMCSA Task Force investigators learned that Allegiant’s owners also operated Northern Van Lines, Inc. and Northeastern Vanlines, Inc. and United West Moving and Storage, Inc.
Combined, the companies have had more than 100 complaints filed against them through the National Consumer Complaint Database.
The other companies have been fined over $31,000 total and have also been suspended from operating for at least one year.
Maryland HHG carrier Direct Movers, Inc. was also shut down and had their DOT number inactivated for failing to comply with an FMCSA investigation involving a shipment being held hostage.
“FMCSA investigators are using new tactics to protect people from the predatory companies looking for ways to exploit them,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We encourage anyone planning a move to avoid becoming a victim by learning the red flags of moving fraud and researching any prospective mover’s complaint history on our website.”
In 2012, FMCSA established a Moving Fraud Task Force to investigate household goods moving companies with numerous complaints.
This July, the FMCSA announced that three Chicago-area HHG carriers have been fined up to $56,000 as a result of an intensified investigation into Illinois movers.
“The last thing families should have to worry about during a move is whether or not their goods will be held hostage by a dishonest moving company,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “FMCSA’s moving fraud investigators are cracking down on movers that take advantage of unsuspecting customers and working hard to educate families on how to avoid them in the first place.”
More than 5,800 household goods moving companies are registered with FMCSA. In 2012, FMCSA received more than 3,100 consumer complaints about household goods movers, up from 2,851 in 2011. Among the most common complaints are shipments being held hostage, loss and damaged goods, delay of shipments, unauthorized movers, and deceptive practices such as unwarranted overcharges.
Consumers can report unsafe and unlawful moving companies by calling FMCSA’s nationwide complaint hotline at 1-888-368-7238 (1-888 DOT-SAFT) or by visiting the database at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Consumers can visit www.protectyourmove.gov to find out more about the “red flags” of moving fraud.