May is National Moving Month and the start of the busiest time of year for changing residences, which means unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are waiting to take advantage of consumers who aren’t careful. In 2011, Better Business Bureau serving northern Colorado and Wyoming received 4,109 inquiries and 14 complaints regarding movers and moving services.

In all, BBBs in the U.S. and Canada had more than 1.3 million moving-related inquiries and more than 9,000 complaints against movers. Complaints include lost or stolen belongings, damaged items, huge price increases over quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being “held hostage” for additional payment.

BBB has teamed up with American Moving & Storage Association to offer tips on how to select the right mover and how to avoid the scams:

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 that can be verified on the Federal Motor Carrier Association’s  website 

Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all quotes given online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can end up costing more.

Know your rights.  Research your rights as a consumer with FMCSA for interstate moves and with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for moves within Colorado and the Wyoming Department of Transportation for moves within Wyoming. Also, enlist the help of the 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 accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more upfront, but it can provide peace of mind and eliminate headaches after the move.  Purchasing 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.  It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.  For your protection, a new interstate regulation effective May 15 requires the cost of full value protection to be included in the estimate you receive.

Start With Trust. For more consumer news you can trust and to check out a mover near you, visit and AMSA’s