After several months of investigative work by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s fraud task force, FMCSA announced Wednesday, July 17, it has taken action against three Chicago-area moving companies. Two are banned from interstate commerce and one has been assigned a federal safety rating of “conditional” and the FMCSA will monitor its safety compliance.
All three companies were assessed civil penalties. Violations included claims of holding customers’ shipments hostage until additional charges were paid.
The three companies are:
- Aurora, Ill.-based White Glove Relocation Services, Inc., ordered shut down for safety violations. The company’s operating authority has also been suspended for holding customers’ shipments hostage. The business was assessed civil penalties totaling $56,300 for commercial violations including holding shipments hostage, misleading advertising, billing clients excessive charges for moves, and $2,070 for safety violations. The violations included failing to implement a random drug and alcohol testing program, and using a driver not medically qualified.
- Cicero, Ill.-based Able Moving Inc., doing business as Father & Sons Moving Service, had its operating authority suspended for holding customers’ shipments hostage. The company has been assessed civil penalties totaling $20,000 for commercial violations, including holding shipments hostage and $2,000 for safety violations – including failing to implement a random drug and alcohol testing program.
- Chicago-based Best Price Moving & Storage was ordered shut down for safety violations, but has been allowed to resume operations after fulfilling a corrective action plan. The company has been assessed civil penalties totaling $15,900 for commercial violations. The violations included billing clients excessive charges for moves; issuing false documents purporting to release the carrier from liability; and $5,530 for safety violations, including failure to maintain driver qualification files and drivers’ duty status records.
The enforcement action stems from a 2012 report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which focused on household moving companies in the Chicago area that had received numerous consumer complaints.
Based on that report, FMCSA established a Moving Fraud Task Force targeting the identified Chicago-area companies as its first intensified investigation, which resulted in the enforcement actions.
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 damage, 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 agency’s database.
More information about the “red flags” of moving fraud can also be found here.
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