Avoid Moving Scams this
Following a few simple rules when looking for a mover will go a
long way toward protecting you from being victimized by scammers this summer,
advises Better Business Bureau and the Maryland Movers Conference.
May is National Moving Month, the start of the busiest time of the year for
changing residences. More than 37 million Americans -- or about 13 percent --
move to a different home every year, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau
Unfortunately, every year, BBB receives extremely serious complaints from
consumers who have fallen prey to dishonest and sometimes unlicensed moving
In the last 12 months, BBB received 18,821 inquiries and 105 complaints
regarding movers and relocation services in the greater Maryland service
area. Complaints to BBB about movers are primarily about damaged or lost
goods and final prices in excess of original estimates. In a common worst-case
scenario, the moving company will essentially hold the customer's belongings
hostage and require potentially thousands of dollars to unload the truck.
"The rise of the Internet has dramatically increased this problem,"
says Maryland Movers Conference Chairman Glenn Duvall of Suddath Relocation
Systems of Maryland, "A rogue company used to be limited to advertising in
the local yellow pages. Today they can put up a Web site, giving them
exposure to thousands of unsuspecting customers. With the proper research
and planning, consumers can make sure they hire a qualified mover."
Checking a mover's credentials is critical and easy. BBB provides trustworthy
information on over 200 movers and relocation services. When making the final
choice, check their BBB rating and consider choosing a company that meets BBB
standards for their performance and ethics, one that has earned BBB
BBB, the Maryland Movers Conference, and the American Moving and Storage
Association (AMSA) offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy
Research the Company Thoroughly. Maryland is considered an
unregulated state because there is no registration requirement for movers,
there are few laws, and there is no single state agency available for consumers
to research a moving company. While state regulations vary, all
interstate movers must, at a minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify at
www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating with your BBB. Having at
least a satisfactory BBB rating is one of seven screenings that AMSA relies on
when authorizing its interstate mover members to display the ProMover logo, the
sign of a quality, professional mover which has pledged to abide by the
organization's Code of Ethics.
Get at Least Three In-Home Estimates.
Whenever possible, ask any company you are considering hiring to come to your
home, inspect your goods, and give you a written estimate of the cost.
Also keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic
low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.
Know Your Rights. If you are moving out of
state research your rights as a consumer to see what your new state will
provide in terms of protection. Enlist the help of BBB or local law
enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or decides
to hold your belongings hostage.
More tips and information on how to choose a mover and plan your
move are available at the MMC's site, www.mdmovers.org, at AMSA's consumer Web site, www.moving.org; and the U.S. Department of Transportation's site, www.protectyourmove.gov. To research a mover with your local Better Business
Bureau, visit www.bbb.org.