How to Avoid a Moving Scam

By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving - Planning a MoveMoving across the country? So are lots of others--last year over 3 million Americans moved to another state to a new house. Some of those moves were across the country and others could have been across the city, but every single one of those families had to box up everything they owned, put it onto a moving van, and hope for the best. If you are contemplating a move, there's no question you have been researching moving companies and have gone down the road of horrific move stories on review sites. How do you handle your residential move so that you are not a victim of moving fraud, and that your things arrive at your new home in Little Rock safe and sound?

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 words like storage-in-transit, valuation and linehaul, you’ll know what they mean.

The FMCSA website is a good commencing point in general, as it also outlines the rules, if you will, that motor carriers follow. Any transportation provider you are considering 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 fascinating, but any problems 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 an ideal world, you'd find movers a couple of months beforehand, and unhurriedly pack, take care of the family, and be 100% prepared when the moving van shows 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 focusing on a hundred 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 couch again, unless you want to buy it back on Craigslist.

Rather, ask your realtor for a suggestion of a moving company. Or, if you are acquaintances with anyone who has moved not too long ago, ask them if they would recommend their mover. National moving companies normally have agents all over the country, so go ahead and 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 booklet (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 possessions. Remember, 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 calculate 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 check out 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 these people 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.