How to Avoid a Moving Scam

By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving - Planning a MoveMoving across the country? 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 the city, but each of those families had to pack everything they owned, load it onto a moving truck, and hope that it arrived without issue. If you are thinking about a move, there is no question you've been online to research moving companies and have gone down the rabbit hole of terrible move tales on review sites. How do you supervise your residential move so that you're not a victim of moving fraud, and that your belongings arrive at your new home in Oklahoma City safe and sound?

The first thing to do is to learn the lingo of the shipping and transport industry. It is a ton easier to make good decisions if you understand 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, can assist you to familiarize yourself with Mover-speak so that when you hear terms like storage-in-transit, valuation and linehaul, you will know what they mean.

The FMCSA website is a terrific beginning point in general, as it also depicts the rules, if you will, that licensed carriers follow. Any carrier you're pondering must be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and carry a Motor Carrier and DOT number. You can search any issues lodged against a company on that website. The ones on Yelp and Facebook are more fascinating, but any issues filed with the DOT usually have a higher level of truth than issues that are likely the result of the customer just not paying attention.

In an optimal world, you would find movers a few months beforehand, and unhurriedly pack, manage the family, and be totally ready when the moving van shows up. Reality isn't so tidy, and that is what moving scammers count on when they are promising you the sun—you are scattered and thinking about a thousand things, so they appeal to your sense of urgency—here's a rough estimate and a handshake and we will handle the specifics later. This is a surefire way to never see your furniture again, unless you want to buy it back off of 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 commonly have agents all over the country, so you can ask your friend in Oklahoma who they used, even if you live in Connecticut. Use the FMCSA website to search moving companies registered for interstate moves, and Google them. Once you've pared down the list to a few options, obtain 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 provided this 25-page brochure (or a link to it) that contains your rights, protection, and industry regulations.

It is crucial that you recognize 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 closeby as you are talking to your potential mover.

Be wary of movers who:

  • Charge a fee for a quote.
  • Give you a quote that seems too good to be probably is!
  • Do not provide written estimates or who say they will determine your total after loading.
  • Ask you to sign blank paperwork.
  • Have no physical address on their website or documents.
  • 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 is better to be safe than sorry. So, be sure and check out your moving company before they load your belongings onto their moving van! Remember that if it seems too good to be true it probably is, and since you are trusting the moving company with what's effectively your life, do your investigation and hire a reputable moving company, like A-1 Freeman Moving Group, who will take good care of you when you move to Oklahoma City.