Administration cracking down on furniture movers

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The Obama administration is cracking on long-distance moving companies that officials say are scamming unsuspecting customers by holding their furniture hostage.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said on Tuesday that its Moving Fraud Task Force has shut down five moving companies this week.

Administrator Anne Ferro said it was important to send a message to the moving industry about its practices.

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“The majority of moving companies are, of course, upstanding. They play by the rules and treat their customers fairly,” Ferro wrote in a blog post on the Department of Transportation’s website.

“But too often, families on the move are preyed upon by unscrupulous carriers,” Ferraro continued. “Too often, they are overcharged when shipping their possessions to a new home. Too often, their treasured memories are held hostage until a high ransom is paid.”

The motor carrier safety administration said it was shutting down a Florida-based company known as Allegiant Van Lines and three of its affiliates in Florida and South Carolina for at least one year. The company was charged with failing to return furniture to its customers unless they paid additional fees and not compiling with an investigation into complaints by the Obama administration.

The motor carrier safety administration said it was also shutting down a Maryland-based moving company.

Ferro said there would likely be more moving company shutdowns coming.

“Shutting down Allegiant and its web of carriers shows what a difference a consumer complaint can make,” she wrote.

“The American people are relying on us so that they can have a safe and worry-free move, and with the help of our valuable partners, we can ensure that everyone who moves is treated fairly by their moving company,” Ferro continued. “Through strong enforcement and teamwork, we can protect consumers from moving fraud.”