The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has launched a nationwide effort aimed at stopping fraudulent moving companies.
Operation Protect Your Move will deploy dozens of investigators across the country to address a “significant uptick” in complaints of movers holding household possessions hostage to extort extra charges from customers, according to an FMCSA news release.
The program also will address complaints against moving companies and brokers that are not in compliance with federal safety and consumer protection regulations and statutes while transporting household goods. The operation covers both movers and the brokers that purport to connect consumers to local movers but instead facilitate fraud by promoting scams.
“Moving is stressful enough without having to worry about being scammed by your moving company, so we’re cracking down on moving companies that hold people’s possessions hostage, and the brokers who facilitate that fraud,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in the news release. “If you’re planning a move, we encourage you to visit ProtectYourMove.gov for more information to help protect yourself from moving scammers.”
Frequent complaints have been filed with FMCSA alleging companies of using deceptive business practices that are causing consumers to pay higher fees, experience delays in receiving their household goods, or in some cases not receiving their possessions at all.
FMCSA said it is making every effort to protect consumers from these moving scams.
The agency plans to formally document violations and has the authority to review and revoke the licenses of movers and brokers. Cases involving potential criminal misconduct may be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation. Additionally, FMCSA said it will work directly with consumers to guide them through the process and help get their money and goods back.
“FMCSA takes its responsibilities very seriously to help protect consumers when moving their household valuables from one state to another,” FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson said. “Consumers should feel confident they can trust the company hired to transport their possessions.”
Operation Protect Your Move is the first of many efforts planned over the next several months to address noncompliant household goods moving companies and brokers. In addition to ramped up investigations, FMCSA said it is taking several actions to crack down on mover scams, including doubling the number of investigators assigned to moving complaints and enhancing partnerships with consumer protection and attorney general offices across the country.
For those who are planning an interstate move, FMCSA offers important information on its Protect Your Move website. Consumers can download a moving checklist, view videos on spotting red flags, confirm a mover or broker’s registration with FMCSA, and check the number of complaints against a particular company. Consumers can also file a complaint against a company regulated by FMCSA by visiting the agency’s National Consumer Complaints Database. LL