How to Avoid a Moving Scam
By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
The first thing to do is to learn the jargon of the trucking industry. It's a lot easier to make good decisions if you comprehend the language of the business and the different business models of moving companies. This glossary of terms, found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, can assist you to familiarize yourself with Mover-speak so that when you hear terms like storage-in-transit, tariff and released value, you’ll comprehend what they refer to.
The FMCSA website is a good beginning point in general, as it also spells out the rules, if you will, that licensed carriers abide by. Any transportation provider you are pondering needs to be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and possess a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can look for any complaints against a company on that site. The ones on Yelp and Reddit are more amusing, but any issues filed with the DOT usually have a higher level of truth than complaints that are most likely the result of the consumer just not paying attention.
In a perfect world, you would find movers a few months prior to your move, and unhastily pack, manage the family, and be 100% prepared when the movers show up. Real life is not so simple, and that's what moving scammers count on when they are promising you the sun—you're scattered and focusing on a million things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here is a rough estimate and a handshake and we'll handle the details later. This is a definite way to never see your couch again, unless you want to buy it back from Craigslist.
Rather, ask your realtor for a suggestion of a moving company. Or, if you know anyone who's moved recently, ask them if they would recommend their mover. National moving companies normally have locations all over the country, so you can ask your Uncle in Iowa who they used, even if you live in Texas. Use the FMCSA website to look up moving companies registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you've reduced down the list to a couple choices, get written in-home estimates.
Be sure to review the FMCSA publication, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move". When hiring a professional mover, it's a federal law that you're provided this 25-page pamphlet (or a link to it) that contains your rights, protection, and industry regulations.
It is important that you spot a dishonest mover BEFORE they load your possessions. Keep in mind, not every mover has your best interest in mind. So, keep these RED FLAGS closeby as you are talking with your potential mover.
Be wary of movers who:
- Charge a fee to provide a quote.
- Give you an estimate that sounds too good to be true....it probably is!
- Do not have written estimates or who say they will figure out your total after loading.
- Ask you to sign blank documents.
- Have no physical address on their website or documents.
- Have a poor record with the Better Business Bureau.
- Do not have a Department of Transportation (DOT) license or the license is expired.
- Do not have an Motor Carrier (MC) license or the license is expired.
- Have a DOT or MC number that is less than 3 years old.
It is better to be safe than sorry. So, be sure and verify your moving company before they load your stuff onto their moving truck! Remember that if it seems too good to be true it probably is, and since you are trusting the moving company with what's effectively your life, do your research and select a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to Denver.