Ranging from careful planning to sort out the packing, temporary storage, or new rental or mortgage agreements, there are loads of things to tackle during a move. Knowing how to find a reliable local or long distance moving company should, however, be on top of your list of priorities. The movers will be handling one of the most important aspects of the move. Thus, hiring a reputable moving company with lots of experience in the industry, positive reviews, and affordable rates will make a huge difference.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes easier said than done. It can be difficult to tell whether an apparently reliable mover will actually stand behind his word on the day of the move. We know how easy it is to get caught up in fake promises that sound too good to be real when moving on a budget. We also know how many fake movers, con artists, and deceptive operators are out there trying to sell you their lies right now.
The following is a list of some of the most important tips and secrets on how to spot a moving scam from a mile away and steer clear from it. Learn how to recognize a moving fraud on your own and why staying informed is key to a successful move.
Know The Laws
If you didn’t know this by now, moving companies need to comply with a series of important industry laws. For example, a licensed long-distance mover needs to adhere to a variety of regulations and industry standards regarding the use of safety practices during hauling. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMSCA in short is responsible for keeping tabs on fraudsters and criminal movers who have worked outside the law and taken advantage of consumers.
Make sure you are familiar with the current regulations and requirements that movers are supposed to follow in your state so you can steer clear of fraudsters.
Know the Laws for Local Movers
Local moves within state borders are regulated by state regulations and laws. At times, under certain conditions, some county codes can also be used. An intrastate mover is usually required to register with the state commercial motor vehicle branch or the state department of transportation. These bodies are responsible for inspecting the company and making sure it fully complies with all safety measures. In some states, certain laws can even dictate the cargo insurance amount that the mover needs to carry. Get in touch with the Department of Transportation or the state consumer affairs branch in your city. They will tell you everything you need to know about the state laws that the moving companies you plan on hiring should obey.
Laws for Long Distance Movers
Interstate movers usually have a USDOT number. This is a unique number used to identify a company and it is issued by the US Department of Transportation. It plays the role of a national license for commercial moving trucks that need to go over state lines.
All movers that need to haul any cargo or carry passengers across the state lines need to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. To make sure you are about to hire a reputable company fully complying with state laws, check the validity of the mover’s USDOT numbers on the official FMCSA site.
The Unregulated Mover Scam
Sadly, there are plenty of bad apples in the moving industry that will choose to engage with clients using unethical practices and, more often than not, practices that are outside the law. Movers who do not own a license issued by the state they are based in or movers who cannot provide you with a valid USDOT number are most likely unregulated. Stay away from them. They may ask you to sign incomplete estimates to try to increase the final price, ask for cash-only payments, or refuse to offer the bill of lading for the haul of your items.
Steer clear from moving scams by always being one step ahead of the movers and knowing just what to look for. See that you ask for a few different non-binding estimates from different moving companies prior to signing any contract. Never sign any papers without first confirming the validity of the company’s USDOT or state license.
The Hidden Fees Moving Scam
To make sure you will not end up dealing with rogue movers who will ask you for a preposterous ransom in exchange of all your boxes, never sign a contract without reading it. Find out if there is any mention of any additional fees that the mover might try to charge you with. Read all the small printed clauses they might try to sneak up on you with without your consent. Pay special attention to anything stating that the mover will receive full possession of your belongings. A rogue mover scam will usually charge a series of undisclosed and unplanned fees for things like:
- climbing extra flights of stairs
- packing your items
- having to carry heavy boxes or items
- being asked to carry any extra weight
Other Red Flags To Consider
The “incredibly low quotes” scam
Pay close attention to suspiciously low moving quotes and bids. They might hide unexpected costs applied to the final bill after the movers will have possession of your goods. It could all escalate to the mover refusing to complete the delivery of your belongings until you will pay up the embellished amount, usually double or triple the original amount.
The “one quote to match them all” scam
A mover displaying a unique price for any type of move should be ignored as this is an important red flag. Trustworthy movers will thoroughly calculate the moving estimate based on distance, cargo weigh and size, number of rooms and additional services. A quote that sounds too good to be true should be considered highly suspicious.
The “in-and-out moving bids” scam
These bids cannot gather sufficient information to issue an accurate quote. The conversation will usually be fast-paced and it will fail to mention all the terms. Try to stay away from movers using in-and-out moving bids.
The weight conversion problem
A price estimate that solely relies on the volume of the items that need to be moved and not the actual weight is usually illegal when the conversion factor is not used. Such a mover needs to be reported to the FMCSA, with the exception that they are a small moving company.
Now that you know how to avoid moving scams and what to pay close attention to, take your pick from our list of top movers who are regulated, licensed, and trustworthy. We guarantee you will enjoy a scam-free, smooth, affordable, and safe relocation every time.