In a single 2004 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operation, agents arrested owners and employees of 16 Florida-based moving companies for a scam in which the companies gave a low-ball estimate, then demanded two to three times the amount in cash before they delivered the household’s possessions. Sadly, this scam is not uncommon. Fortunately, federal and state governments (along with the Better Business Bureau) offer several resources to help you verify that your mover won’t take your money and run.
Before the Move
Start by visiting Protectyourmove.gov, a website set up by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to protect consumers from moving fraud. This site is the most comprehensive resource for verifying interstate movers. Click on “Search Movers & Complaint History” on the top toolbar and search for the moving company you’re considering. This will allow you to confirm that the company has insurance and is licensed. You’ll also find the number of complaints the USDOT has received about the company, with the complaints divided by category. Write down the company’s USDOT and MC numbers and save them. If your move doesn’t cross state lines, however, you’ll need to check with your local Better Business Bureau or movers association. Find contact information for these organizations listed by state under “State/Local Resources” on the site’s top toolbar. Finally, low-ball, over-the-phone estimates are a red flag that something isn’t right, so ask for an on-site inspection before your mover gives you an estimated price.
When the moving truck arrives, check the USDOT and MC numbers painted on the side of the truck against the numbers you wrote down when verifying the moving company. If the numbers differ, or if you can’t find the numbers on the truck, ask the movers for an explanation before they begin loading the truck. If something seems fishy, don’t allow loading to start until you are satisfied. Read all paperwork before signing it.