Internet moving brokers often use company names "very similar to well-known, reputable brand names." Their estimates are "usually significantly lower" than legitimate moving companies, according to the report.
The problem is likely to get worse, unless customers become aware of the growing scam.
"As more Americans feel comfortable arranging their household moves online, Internet-based moving brokers will have more opportunities to harm consumers," the Senate report states.
Companies moving household goods across state lines are subject to federal regulations and prosecution. States regulate moves made within their own borders.
New federal Surface Transportation legislation, which became law July 6, requires all moving companies to meet additional registration requirements. Their owners must take an examination about federal consumer-protection laws and promise to abide by those laws.
Today, the Better Business Bureau and the American Moving and Storage Association both advise consumers planning to move to get "multiple estimates based upon in-home visual inspections of their goods."
Aldo DiSorbo, one subject of the Senate Committee report, allegedly operates his companies under several names, often changing the names of each of one his companies to avoid public scrutiny.
Between November 2002 and May 2010, DiSorbo gave his Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company four different names: GG Moving, Golden Gloves Moving, Champion Moving, then Storage and Moving Squad Inc.
Even experienced Internet consumers often can't immediately tell the difference between legitimate and illegitimate moving companies, because most customers only hire moving companies once or twice in their lives.
The report concludes: "As the household goods moving industry continues to evolve, policymakers, regulators and law enforcement officials will need to put more effort into understanding the role of Internet brokers and the impact that these practices are having on consumers."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.