How to Avoid a Moving Scam
By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
Start by learning the jargon of the transportation industry. It is much easier to make solid decisions if you comprehend 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-speak so that when you hear phrases like auxiliary service, accessorial charge and released value, you’ll understand what they refer to.
The FMCSA website is a terrific beginning point in general, as it also depicts the guidelines, if you will, that motor carriers abide by. Any moving company you're pondering should be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and have a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can search any issues lodged against a company from that website. The ones on Yelp and Facebook are more amusing, but any issues filed with the DOT usually have a higher level of validity than issues that are most likely the result of the customer just not paying attention.
In an optimal world, you'd hire movers a couple of months ahead of time, and leisurely pack, supervise the family, and be 100% on the ball when the guys on the truck show up. Reality is not so easy, and that's what moving scammers rely on when they are promising you the moon—you are sidetracked and focusing on a million things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here is a ballpark estimate and a handshake and we'll talk about the paperwork later. This is a sure way to never see your couch again, unless you want to buy it back on Craigslist.
Instead, 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 usually have locations all over the country, so you can ask your cousin in Iowa who they used, even if you live in Vermont. Use the FMCSA website to find companies registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you've reduced down the list to a couple choices, get written in-home estimates.
Be sure to read the FMCSA publication, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move". When hiring a professional mover, it is a federal law that you're given this 25-page brochure (or a link to it) that contains your rights, protection, and industry regulations.
It is vital that you spot a rogue mover BEFORE they have your possessions. Don’t forget, not all movers have your best interest in mind. So, keep these RED FLAGS closeby as you are talking to your potential mover.
Be wary of movers who:
- Charge a fee for a quote.
- Give you an estimate that seems too good to be true....it probably is!
- Don't have written estimates or who say they will calculate your charges after loading.
- Ask you to sign blank paperwork.
- Have no physical address on their website or paperwork.
- Have a bad 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 check out your moving company before they load your belongings onto their truck! 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 investigation and select a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to Tulsa.