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Choosing the right moving company can make all the difference during your move. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision, as well as basic steps to ensure a successful move.

Avoid moving scams! Look for these red flags when evaluating moving companies

  • Companies that ask for cash deposits before the actual move.
  • Having no physical address or just listing a P.O. Box on the company'
  • No licensing information on the company's website.
  • No membership with organizations like the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Rogue movers pose a real threat and unfortunately the Internet has made it easier for such scams to thrive. It is important to not only evaluate pricing, but also the reputation and experience of moving companies when making your decision.

Starting off: Remember that simply having a website or a large ad in the phonebook does not make a company legitimate. Use word of mouth; ask your friends or local real estate agents if they recommend any moving companies.

Make a list of prospects and contact them via phone. Get the full company name, the number of years in business, address, website and email addresses, references and DOT and MC license numbers.

You can use the DOT and MC license numbers to find the company on SaferSys.org, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website, and see safety information, any orders to cease operation, and licensing for that company.

Obtaining price estimates: Though estimates obtained over the phone or Internet might be convenient, federal regulation requires an in-home estimate before the move. A representative will want to visit your home or facility in order to survey your goods and provide a written estimate of cost.

When you move across state lines, your charge is based on the actual weight of the load being transported, distance, and several additional factors. A face-to-face meeting will clear these points up and help to ensure accurate pricing from the beginning.

During the on-site estimate, show the moving consultant every item you wish to have moved. Remember to include items in the basement or in storage. An experienced mover should be asking you lots of questions so they can price the job accurately and prepare adequately for the move. Feel free to ask any questions you need to assure your confidence in the company.

Inquire about “valuation" options. Valuation provides protection from loss or damage to your possessions. The valuation option you choose determines the basis upon which any claim will be adjusted and the maximum liability of the mover. The liability of a mover for loss or damage is based upon the mover's tariffs, as well as federal laws and regulations, and has certain limitations and exclusions. Valuation is not insurance; it is simply a tariff-based level of motor carrier liability.

Be wary of estimates substantially lower than the rest. “Low-ball” price quotes could be an indication of lower quality service or of a mover who plans to “up” the price in a moving scam. In these cases, the mover often gives the customer a low bid and then ups the price once the goods are on the truck demanding large sums of money before returning the possessions.

Name and reputation: Though we all like a good deal, when it comes to moving companies choosing the lowest price could end up being very costly in the end. Moving is an area where experience counts and reputation is well earned. Think of it as an investment, and you are always better of with a name you recognize.

Evaluating multiple moving companies' estimates: Take a close look at the moving consultant. You should feel confident that he or she will be there through the entire process and ready to help you with anything you might need.

Your moving consultant is also required by law to provide you with a copy of the brochure “Your Rights and Responsibilities.” In this brochure, the “110% Rule” is explained. The rule states that under a non-binding estimate, you are not required to pay more than 10 percent over the amount of the original estimate, at the time of delivery. You are obligated to pay any remaining charges over the 110 percent amount within 30 days.

What to do when scams occur: If you fall victim to moving scams, there is a service called MoveRescue available to help. Call 800-832-1773. A representative will assess your situation and direct you through the appropriate next steps. MoveRescue is supported by a network of law firms throughout the United States and serves as a central source for consumers who need assistance or anti-fraud information. In some cases, MoveRescue even offers “shipment rescue” for goods being held by rogue movers.

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