Following a few simple rules when selecting a mover will go a long way toward protecting yourself from being victimized by scams this moving season. Better Business Bureau and American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) recommend doing your homework before selecting a mover.
As we approach the busiest time of the year for changing residences, BBB encourages consumers to know their right…and the red flags of moving scams. Every year BBB and AMSA receive thousands of complaints from consumers who have fallen prey to dishonest and often 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.
"Anyone can claim to be a mover, so checking a mover's credentials is critical," said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. "Know your rights and options, but more importantly do your homework before turning your precious belongings over to a mover."
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, www.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 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 up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache 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. 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.