How to avoid moving scams

Mar 16, 2016

It doesn't matter if you're moving across the city or the country - getting all of your belongings safely to the new house is no easy feat. One thing that can simplify the endeavor is hiring professional movers. However, it's important to be cautious during this hiring process. Although moving scams are not as common as many people fear, there are rogue companies with fake websites and fabricated information that may try to trick you. To keep your family and your belongings safe, read on for a few practical tips for hiring a reputable company and avoiding scams.

Check with AMSA

"AMSA developed the ProMover program in 2009 to protect consumers."

The American Moving and Storage Association is an organization that represents thousands of van lines, independent moving companies and other members of the industry. To help protect consumers from fraudulent companies, the association developed what's called the ProMover program in 2009.

This program is responsible for two things: First, since AMSA members have agreed to meet certain standards, the program gives users a wide selection of reputable moving companies from which to choose. Second, if a consumer has found a prospective moving company elsewhere, the program allows him or her to check whether that company is a ProMover member. Keep in mind that not all high-quality and dependable movers are members of AMSA. However, if the company you've chosen is a member, you can be sure it isn't a rogue operator.

Ask the right questions

When interviewing potential candidates for your move, there are certain questions you can ask to help you determine whether the company is legitimate. Here are just a few:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Does it have the proper licensing and insurance for your type of move?
  • Can it provide references you can call?
  • Will it give you its federal and state Department of Transportation license numbers?

Tip: If a company provides you with its license numbers, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website. Here, you'll be able to confirm that the company has provided accurate details about its size, address, history, insurance and licensing. 

Call the Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau is another great resource for verifying the legitimacy of the moving companies you're considering. Either call the BBB, or visit its website, and you'll be able to see how many consumer complaints have been filed against the business and whether the company has a high or low overall score. Keep in mind that many rogue operators use fake names to avoid being listed by the BBB, so it may not always be a foolproof method of discovering scams.

Businessman using a laptop computer.Check with the BBB and the FMCSA before hiring a moving company.

Look out for red flags

While the previous tips listed are steps you could take to verify companies' reputations, it's also important to simply be cognizant of red flags as you're interviewing movers and asking them to provide estimates. First of all, beware of companies that charge upfront for a move. In the majority of cases, professional movers won't even have you pay a deposit - you'll be asked to provide a check or cash upon delivery.

Also, be wary of companies that are reluctant to provide references or do in-home estimates, as these could be signs the operation isn't legitimate. Finally, remember that if a company offers a much cheaper estimate than the ones you receive elsewhere, there's a good chance it's a scam. Rogue companies count on the fact that moving is expensive and people will be more willing to accept low-ball offers to save some money. For that reason, you should always get estimates from at least two or three companies before hiring one.


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