How to Avoid a Moving Scam

By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving - Planning a MoveMoving across the country? You are not alone--last year over 3 million Americans crossed a state line to a new residence. Some of those moves were across the country and others could have been across town, but every single one of those families had to box up all their stuff, put it onto a moving truck, and hope it reached their destination. If you are contemplating a move, there's no question you have been online to research moving companies and have gone down the road of terrible move tales on review sites. How do you supervise your residential move so that you are not preyed upon by moving fraud, and that your possessions arrive at your new home in Little Rock safe and secure?

Start by learning the jargon of the transportation industry. It's a lot easier to make sound decisions if you grasp the vocabulary of the business and the diverse business models of moving companies. This glossary of terms, found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, aids you to familiarize yourself with Mover-talk so that when you hear phrases like auxiliary service, valuation and linehaul, you’ll know what they mean.

The FMCSA website is a great beginning point in general, as it also outlines the rules, if you will, that motor carriers follow. Any transportation provider you are pondering must be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and have a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can view any grievances against a company on that website. The ones on Yelp and Reddit are more amusing, but any grievances filed with the DOT tend to have a higher level of truth than issues that are probably the result of the customer just not paying attention.

In a perfect world, you'd find movers a couple of months ahead of time, and unhurriedly pack, manage the family, and be 100% ready when the guys on the truck show up. Reality is not so easy, and that's what moving scammers bank on when they are promising you the moon—you're scattered and thinking about a million things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here's a rough estimate and a handshake and we'll talk about the specifics later. This is a definite way to never see your stuff again, unless you want to buy it back on Craigslist.

Rather, ask your realtor for a referral for a moving company. Or, if you are acquaintances with anyone who has moved recently, ask them if they would recommend their mover. National moving companies commonly have agents all over the country, so feel free to ask your friend in Oklahoma who they used, even if you live in Vermont. Use the FMCSA website to look up companies registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you've narrowed it down to a couple choices, get written in-home estimates.

Make sure to read the FMCSA publication, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move". When hiring a professional mover, it is a federal law that you're supplied with this 25-page brochure (or a link to it) that outlines your rights, protection, and industry regulations.

It is important that you spot an untrustworthy mover BEFORE they load your belongings. Keep in mind, not all movers have your best interest in mind. So, keep these RED FLAGS closeby as you are interviewing your potential mover.

Be wary of movers who:

  • Charge a fee to provide an estimate.
  • Hand you a quote that sounds too good to be probably is!
  • Do not provide written estimates or who say they will figure out your charges after loading.
  • Ask you to sign blank paperwork.
  • Have no physical address on their website or paperwork.
  • Have a bad 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's 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 movers with what is effectively your life, do your research and hire a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to Little Rock.