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Consumer Archive

Consumer

Simple steps can avoid costly moving scams

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NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (7/9/08)--Moving company scams are on the rise, with more than $1.2 million in federal fines issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) in 2007. Knowing how to protect yourself before a big move could save you thousands of dollars and a lot of added stress (Bankrate.com June 27). Common scams involve movers demanding more money before they’ll deliver your possessions to your new home--after you’ve already paid more than the estimate they gave you. Many variations on the moving scam theme exist, but you can take a few simple steps to help protect yourself before, during, and after a move.
*Get recommendations. The best way to find a reputable mover is to ask friends, family, or your real estate agent. *Do your research. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. MovingScam.com keeps a list of more than 350 blacklisted movers. And make sure the moving company is registered with FMCSA at protectyourmove.gov. *Get at least three on-site estimates. A telltale sign of a scam is when movers don’t offer an on-site inspection. Get a written estimate signed by the mover after the estimator has seen what you want moved. Each estimate should clearly describe all charges for services the mover provides. *Ask about the claims process. Even good movers can scratch your furniture or drop a fragile box, so it’s important the mover has a clear claims process so you can recover from the damage. *Make sure your contract covers everything. A reputable mover won’t hide charges--like a driver’s fee or extra fees for pads and packing--in the contract. *Look at the moving trucks. Are they well-kept and clean? Will a company-owned truck--rather than a rental--arrive on moving day? Rented vehicles can be a red flag for rogue movers, according to FMCSA.
On the big day, make sure you’re around when the movers arrive so you can answer questions and give directions. If something goes wrong, file a complaint at protectyourmove.gov or call 888-DOT-SAFT (888-368-7328) Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. EST. For more information, listen to “No Hassles Moving Company Guide” in Home & Family Resource Center.