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 residence. Many those moves were across the country and others may have been across the city, but every single one of those families had to pack everything they owned, put it onto a moving van, and hope for the best. If you are contemplating a move, there is no question you've been online to research moving companies and have gone down the path of horrific move anecdotes on review sites. How do you manage your residential move so that you're not preyed upon by moving scammers, and that your belongings arrive at your new home in Tulsa safe and sound?

Start by learning the vocabulary of the trucking industry. It's a lot easier to make sound decisions if you grasp the terminology 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 terms like cubic weight, valuation and released value, you’ll comprehend what they refer to.

The FMCSA website is a terrific commencing point in general, as it also outlines the rules of the road, if you will, that licensed carriers follow. Any moving company you are pondering needs to be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and carry a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can look for any complaints against a company from that website. The ones on Yelp and Reddit are more entertaining, but any problems filed with the DOT tend to have a higher level of truth than issues that are most likely the result of the consumer just not paying attention.

In an optimal world, you would hire movers a few months ahead of time, and unhastily pack, manage the family, and be 100% ready when the moving van shows up. Real life is not so simple, and that's what moving scammers count on when they're promising you the stars—you're busy and focusing on a hundred things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here is a rough estimate and a handshake and we will talk about the paperwork later. This is a surefire 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 are friends with anyone who's moved recently, ask them for recommendations. National moving companies commonly have locations all over the country, so you can ask your Uncle in Nebraska who they used, even if you live in Connecticut. Use the FMCSA website to look up movers registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you have pared down the list to a couple options, obtain written in-home estimates.

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

It is vital that you spot a rogue mover BEFORE they load your possessions. Keep in mind, not all movers have your best interest in mind. So, keep these RED FLAGS closeby as you are talking with your potential mover.

Be wary of movers who:

  • Charge a fee to provide an estimate.
  • Hand you an estimate that seems too good to be probably is!
  • Do not have written estimates or who say they will figure out your total after loading.
  • Ask you to sign blank paperwork.
  • Have no physical address on their website or paperwork.
  • Have a unsatisfactory 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 things onto their 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 homework and hire a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to Tulsa.