May is National Moving Month. Even though you might be excited about getting the keys to your new place and settling in, you must be aware of scammers waiting to take advantage of you. Last year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 9,300 complaints against movers. The majority of the complaints involved price increases, missing items, and belongings that were held hostage until an additional payment was made.
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to become a victim of a moving scam. The Better Business Bureau and the American Moving & Storage Association teamed up to provide tips on how to make sure your next move goes smoothly.
1. Make sure your mover is licensed. The regulations are different depending on your state of residence, but all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This organization assigns a motor carrier number that can be verified at protectyourmove.gov.
2. Obtain at least three in-home estimates in writing. Know that not all pricing quotes you see online or receive during a phone call can be trusted. A shady business will often quote one price over the phone, and then change the price upon arrival. This is why it is so important to get everything in writing. A legitimate business will send someone to your home beforehand to give you an accurate estimate.
3. Become familiar with your consumer rights. The Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Association provides a list of your rights when it comes to an interstate move. If you’re moving within your state, check with the appropriate state agency. An interstate mover is required to provide you with two manuals that describe your rights in detail.
4. Consider accepting full value protection. Although you might shell out more cash, this step can help you avoid a moving disaster. When you purchase full (replacement) value protection from your mover, this ensures that any belongings that are lost or damaged will be repaired or replaced, or you will receive money so that the item can be repaired or replaced at its current market value, no matter how old it is. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration requires interstate movers to make arbitration available to customers so they can settle disputed claims.
The Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration also mention these red flags to watch out for:
- The company’s website has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance.
- The moving company demands cash or a large deposit.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives instead of the company’s official moving van.
- The mover claims that all goods are covered by their insurance.