BBB offers advice for avoiding moving scamsFollowing a few simple rules when selecting a mover will go a long way toward protecting yourself from being victimized by scams this moving season.
Following a few simple rules when selecting a mover will go a long way toward protecting yourself from being victimized by scams this moving season. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) and the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) recommend doing your homework before selecting a mover.
As we approach the busiest time of the year for changing residences, the BBB encourages consumers to know their rights and be able to identify the red flags of moving scams. Each year, the BBB and AMSA receive thousands of complaints from consumers who have fallen prey to dishonest and sometimes unlicensed moving companies. In the worst-case scenario, the moving company holds the customer's belongings “hostage” and demands immediate – and sometimes exorbitant – payment to unload the van.
"Anyone can claim to be a mover, so taking time to check out a company’s background and credentials is critical," said Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB. "Know your rights, and always do your homework before turning your belongings over to a mover."
The BBB and AMSA offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:
Research the company thoroughly. Regulations vary, but all interstate movers must be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA’s) website; www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating with your BBB, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America.
Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price-quotes online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.
Know your options. Research your rights as a consumer with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of the BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.
Consider getting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more upfront, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would come nowhere near the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if it were damaged in transit.
For more consumer news and to check out a mover near you, visit www.bbb.org.