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9 Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed by Rogue Movers

ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), May 29, 2011 – Each year, about 15 million American households move, and the majority do so during peak moving season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

By planning ahead and doing some simple research, consumers can reduce their risk of falling victim to disreputable movers who make a business out of baiting customers with very low estimates and then adding on unreasonable charges or even holding the customer’s household goods hostage for exorbitant ransom.

“Anyone with a website can claim to be a mover,” said Carl Walter. “It’s important to do some homework to avoid falling victim to a scam. There are a number of red flags that make rogue movers stand out, but to recognize them you have to know what to look for ahead of time. The best way to know if a prospective mover is doing something wrong is to know the right way from the start.”

  • Go with a name you know – Find three moving companies that have offices in your area and have been in business for at least 10 years.
  • Get a referral – Word of mouth is the strong indicator of reliability – ask friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.
  • Ask for an in-home estimate – Transportation charges are based not only on the distance of the move, but also on the weight of the items being moved. To ensure that your estimate is accurate, have the moving company come and look at the items you need to move.
  • Don’t be hooked by the lowest price – Disreputable movers often lure customers with lowball prices and then hit them with unreasonable charges or, in extreme cases, even hold their belongings for ransom. Get three estimates – if one is much lower than the others,that is a red flag.
  • Be sure the company is who it says – Some disreputable movers try to lure customers in by using names that are very similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company’s website to make sure the local agent is affiliated with the brand name it is claiming.
  • Don’t pay up front – Typically you should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved. Most companies request payment at the time of delivery.
  • Do your research – If you are moving interstate, go to protectyourmove.gov to find out if a mover is licensed for interstate moves by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.
  • Get it in writing – Ask for pickup and delivery dates in writing.
  • Know your rights – Request a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a brochure created by the Federal Highway Administration that outlines consumers’ rights. Federal law requires movers to give this to customers prior to an interstate move.