How to Avoid a Moving Scam

By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving - Planning a MoveMoving to a new state? Join the club--last year over three million Americans crossed a state line to a new home. A portion of those moves were across the country and others might have been across town, but all of those families had to uproot everything they owned, put it onto a truck, and hope that it arrived without issue. If you're planning a move, there is no question you've been researching moving companies and have gone down the rabbit hole of horrific move tales on different websites. How do you manage your residential move so that you're not preyed upon by moving fraud, and that your possessions arrive at your new home in Colorado Springs safe and sound?

Off the bat, learn the vocabulary of the trucking industry. It is much easier to make solid decisions if you grasp the terminology of the business and the various 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, tariff and bulky item, you will comprehend what they mean.

The FMCSA website is a great beginning point in general, as it also outlines the rules, if you will, that licensed carriers adhere to. Any transportation provider you are thinking about must be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and have a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can view any issues lodged against a company from that site. The ones on Yelp and Facebook are more entertaining, but any issues filed with the DOT usually have a higher level of validity than complaints that are probably the result of the customer just not paying attention.

In an ideal world, you would hire movers a couple of months beforehand, and unhastily pack, supervise the family, and be totally on the ball when the moving van shows up. Real life is not so tidy, and that's what moving scammers bank on when they're promising you the sun—you're sidetracked and worrying about a hundred things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here's a rough estimate and a handshake and we will handle 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 name of a moving company. Or, if you know anyone who has moved in the recent past, ask them who they used. National moving companies usually have agents all over the country, so go ahead and ask your friend in Nebraska who they used, even if you live in Vermont. Use the FMCSA website to search companies registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you have narrowed it down to a few choices, get written in-home estimates.

Make sure to look at the FMCSA publication, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move". When hiring a professional mover, it is a federal law that you're provided this 25-page pamphlet (or a link to it) that spells out your rights, protection, and industry regulations.

It is crucial that you recognize a rogue mover BEFORE they load your belongings. Don’t forget, not every mover has your best interest in mind. So, keep these RED FLAGS on hand as you are interviewing your potential mover.

Be wary of movers who:

  • Charge a fee to provide a quote.
  • Give you an estimate that seems 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 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's better to be safe than sorry. So, make sure and verify your moving company before they load your belongings onto their moving van! 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 homework and pick a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to Colorado Springs.