Five household goods moving companies in Florida, South Carolina and Maryland have been shut down for holding customer shipments hostage and failing to turn over records related to federal investigations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the shutdown, part of a continuing campaign by its Moving Fraud Task Force, via a press release on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
The five movers who lost their authority to operate:
- Allegiant Van Lines Inc., based in Davie, Fla.;
- Northern Van Lines Inc., based in Cooper City, Fla.;
- Northeastern Vanlines Inc., based in Pembroke Pines, Fla.;
- United West Moving and Storage Inc., based in Anderson, S.C.; and
- Direct Movers Inc., based in Pikesville, Md.
FMCSA’s Moving Fraud Task Force began investigating Allegiant Van Lines in response to consumer complaints that the company “illegally held customers’ possessions hostage,” the release stated. The company failed to respond to federal orders charging it with improperly holding hostage goods. The company has been suspended from operating for at least one year and was issued fines of more than $88,000 for safety and commercial violations.
During the course of the investigation into Allegiant, FMCSA discovered the company’s owner also operated Northern Van Lines and Northeastern Vanlines of Florida, and United West Moving and Storage of South Carolina. Combined, more than 100 complaints have been filed against the three related companies in the National Consumer Complaint Database. They now face fines of more than $31,000 total and have also been suspended from operating for at least one year.
Maryland-based Direct Movers was also shut down, and their DOT number inactivated, for failing to comply with an FMCSA demand for records involving a shipment being held hostage.
In 2012, FMCSA established a Moving Fraud Task Force to investigate household goods moving companies with numerous complaints.
In July of this year, FMCSA announced that civil penalties of up to $56,000 had been levied against three Chicago-area moving companies as a result of an intensified investigation into Illinois movers.
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 888-368-7238 (888 DOT-SAFT) or by visiting the database.
More information about the “red flags” of moving fraud can be found here.