How to Avoid a Moving Scam

By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving - Planning a MoveMoving to a new state? So are lots of others--last year over 3 million Americans moved to a new home. Some of those moves were across the country and others may have been across town, but all of those families had to uproot all their stuff, load it onto a moving truck, and hope it reached their destination. If you're contemplating a move, there's no question you've been researching moving companies and have gone down the road of horrible move anecdotes on different websites. How do you manage your residential move so that you are not duped by moving fraud, and that your belongings arrive at your new residence in San Antonio safe and sound?

Off the bat, learn the vernacular of the trucking industry. It's a lot easier to make sound decisions if you comprehend the vocabulary of the business and the various business models of moving companies. This glossary of terms, found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, can assist you to familiarize yourself with Mover-talk so that when you hear phrases like auxiliary service, accessorial charge and linehaul, you’ll comprehend what they refer to.

The FMCSA website is a terrific commencing point in general, as it also depicts the rules of the road, if you will, that licensed carriers follow. Any carrier you are considering must be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and have a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can look for any grievances against a company on that site. The ones on Yelp and Google are more amusing, but any issues filed with the DOT usually have a higher level of truth than complaints that are probably the result of the consumer just not paying attention.

In a perfect world, you'd employ movers several months ahead of time, and unhurriedly pack, manage the family, and be totally prepared when the guys on the truck show up. Reality is not so tidy, and that is what moving scammers bank on when they're promising you the moon—you are busy and worrying about a hundred things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here is a rough estimate and a handshake and we will handle the details later. This is a sure way to never see your stuff again, unless you want to buy it back from Craigslist.

Rather, ask your realtor for a name of a moving company. Or, if you are acquaintances with anyone who has moved in the recent past, ask them for recommendations. National moving companies commonly have locations all over the country, so feel free to ask your cousin in Iowa who they used, even if you live in Texas. Use the FMCSA website to search companies registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you've narrowed it down to a couple options, schedule a time to get written in-home estimates.

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

It is vital that you spot an untrustworthy mover BEFORE they have your belongings. Keep in mind, not every mover has your best interest in mind. So, keep these RED FLAGS handy as you are interviewing your potential mover.

Be wary of movers who:

  • Charge a fee to provide a quote.
  • Provide an estimate that sounds too good to be probably is!
  • Don't have written estimates or who say they will determine your charges after loading.
  • Ask you to sign blank documents.
  • Have no physical address on their website or documents.
  • Have a poor 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 moving company with what is effectively your life, do your homework and select a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to San Antonio.