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FMCSA cracks down on moving fraud, unethical movers, brokers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted February 26th, 2013

How the government is punishing movers who charge more than the estimate, while holding a homeowner’s belongings hostage

FMCSA cracks down on moving fraud

Although the lawyers that make up the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable litigate truck accidents only, one thing that’s taken us by surprise has been the amount of people asking us for help with movers who are or who have taken advantage of them.

We’ve received a number of e-mails from people saying they hired a moving company that issued them an estimate of, say, $1,500. Then the homeowner pays, and watches everything in his home get loaded onto the back of a truck.

And then the actual bill arrives.

$4,000?!?

The homeowner contests it, but the mover won’t budge. The mover is quite literally, holding all the cards, and the furniture too. The mover has the homeowner’s $1,500, not to mention all of his personal belongings stored in the back of a moving van.

In scenarios like this, which have been commonly reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as well as to consumer and commercial vehicle lawyers around the country, the homeowner’s options have been few, but to pay.

Until now.

The good news is that the FMCSA has now responded by announcing a new policy that allows the agency to hand out stiffer fines and suspensions for unethical deception practiced by the household goods brokerage industry. Under the new policy, the FMCSA can fine violators as much as $10,000 per day, per violation. Repeat offenders can be tagged with suspensions of up to three years.

The policy impacts carriers and brokers that knowingly breach a contract and fail to deliver a shipment for which a consumer has already made payment.

According to officials with the American Moving & Storage Association, the scene we described above is sadly common, and the organization supports FMCSA’s attempts to put an end to it.

So do we.

Here is some information from the FMSCA on how to protect yourself from moving fraud.

 – Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Robert S. Donovan

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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