Beware: How To Avoid Moving Scams
As the busiest time of the year for changing residences approaches, Better Business Bureau and the American Moving & Storage Association encourage you to follow a few simple rules when selecting a moving company. Knowing your rights – and red flags to watch out for – can go a long way toward protecting yourself from becoming a victim of a moving scam.
Every year BBB and American Moving & Storage Association receive thousands of complaints from consumers who fall prey to dishonest and sometimes unlicensed moving companies. In a too-frequent, worst-case scenario, the moving company holds the customer's belongings “hostage” and requires potentially thousands of dollars to unload the van.
BBB and AMSA offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:
Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on FMCSA’s website, protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America.
Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price quotes provided online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.
Know your rights. Research your rights as a consumer with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
Consider getting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more upfront, but it can provide peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age.
For trustworthy consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org or call 970-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.