FMCSA cracking down on rogue interstate moving companies

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Unscrupulous interstate moving companies that violate federal consumer protection and safety regulations will continue to be targeted for investigations and prosecutions, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration vowed Wednesday, July 9.

FMCSA announced the results of a recently concluded strike force investigation involving nearly 350 moving companies located in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In all, 1,140 violations of federal regulations were recorded, resulting in nearly $325,000 in assessed fines.

“Interstate movers with fraudulent or rogue operations are hereby put on notice — federal investigators will be knocking on your door in the future, and you will face serious legal and financial consequences,” FMCSA Administrator John H. Hill says. “During this strike force alone, six companies received federal fines in excess of $27,000.”

From May 5 through May 16, FMCSA — in cooperation with state law enforcement and consumer protection agencies — conducted focused compliance reviews on carriers hired to transport consumers’ personal property across state lines. For a list of companies cited during the strike force, go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hhg-2008-05-results.

The strike force targeted states that received the most complaints in the National Household Goods Consumer Complaint database (http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov); in fiscal year 2007, FMCSA received nearly 4,000 complaints. The compliance reviews were conducted by federal investigators in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

“We owe much of our success to our state partners who eagerly participated in the strike force,” says Rose McMurray, FMCSA chief safety officer and assistant administrator. “Our state counterparts — including state commercial vehicle enforcement units, consumer protection agencies and the state Attorney General offices — were an integral part of this ambitious effort. We will continue working together to protect the public from these rogue and often predatory moving companies.”

In response to FMCSA’s compliance reviews, the American Moving & Storage Association says it “supports the efforts of the federal government in working to eliminate rogue operators and to ensure good movers are in full compliance. We share this goal and continue to push for strong federal enforcement of interstate moves. AMSA has supported increased funding for FMCSA to properly carry out its enforcement responsibilities, and will again do so during consideration of the federal highway reauthorization legislation during the next session of Congress.”

AMSA says it “remains in the forefront of efforts to protect consumers from any unfair or unsafe operating or business practices in our industry. Toward that end, we are currently reviewing the records of all of our members as we prepare to implement a new industry certification program called ProMover, which will be in place by the end of the year. Consumers seeking a legitimate, quality mover will need only look for the ProMover logo.” AMSA says it is committed to its goal of “ensuring that all professional movers are in full compliance with all federal regulations. AMSA will specifically examine the circumstances surrounding any violations by our members and take action where appropriate.”

FMCSA says consumers can help identify noncompliant household goods movers by calling the agency’s nationwide complaint hotline, 888-368-7238 (888 DOT-SAFT), or by going to http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov. Prior to selecting a household goods carrier, FMCSA says consumers also should visit its www.protectyourmove.gov website for information on planning a successful move and to search movers and their complaint history.