There are over 13,000 relocation companies in America, according to Better Business Bureau, and the number of moving scams is rising every year. That’s why it is important to know how to check if a moving company is legitimate. Luckily, not all of them are frauds, but there are more and more negative reviews about relocation services, so why not inform yourself about all the red flags and move safely.
A customer has every right to know how each service works and be involved in every little detail of the relocation. Frankly, it’s understandable why people don’t know all the information regarding the relocation process and services, but since the reports of relocation frauds are rising annually, you should get some notes. That is a big step in avoiding relocation stress and the possibility of getting ripped off by unprofessional relocation companies. So, before you start preparing for long-distance movers, ensure you read our tips on how to choose the right relocation crew.
One of the First To-Dos in How to Check If a Moving Company Is Legitimate Is to Start Your Research on Time
Changing home and organizing a long-distance move isn’t easy. In fact, relocation is one of the three most stressful events in people’s lives, so dealing with move-out anxiety is something you should think about and do some things before the move to avoid it. One of the first things is surely finding a trustworthy and legit relocation crew that will take care of your move. And to do it right, you need time. So, start your research at least one month before the relocation day and ensure you’re in safe hands.
There are many tasks to be done, and a successful move depends mostly on how you will handle them. As you may know, the organization is the key, and to be on track with each task, you should create a relocation to-do list. From things like what to get rid of and all the packing tips, you could easily forget to put the search for reliable long-distance movers on that list. So, let’s see what will be your first task.
Explore the Market and Don’t Hire the First Long-Distance Moving Company You Run Into
Once you made a relocation to another state checklist, get comfortable in your favorite chair and start the search. But, before you even begin, notice that the relocation industry is growing every year, and the market is vast. It’s not something you can do in a few minutes because the essential trick in the whole process is not to hire the first relocation company you find. The best solution is to contact at least three companies and compare the services they offer and, importantly, the prices. Don’t get carried away if a relocation crew offers you a very low estimate while you’re looking for the cheapest way to move out. It’s a red flag, and you’ll realize it once you hear estimations of the other companies.
How to Make Sure a Company Is Legitimate – Ensure You’re In Good Hands
Before you engage with one of the professional movers you find online or get a friend’s recommendation, you need to make sure the business is legit. Being scammed can’t be just described as a ‘bad experience’ because you lose money and precious belongings. So, when you create a relocation budget, you’ll know how much money will go on long-distance moving services, and you’ll get the first outline for the professional crew that suits you. The next step is to look for some specific things every serious business owner must have as proof they aren’t scams.
Most certainly, the first thing to look up when hiring movers is to go online and insert their name on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. If you don’t find them there, you need to keep looking since the federal government must license every interstate mover.
Check Online Reviews of the Relocation Companies
Nowadays, almost everyone has access to the internet, and you can quickly go through all the reviews customers left for each service they’ve been offered, from storage units to packing services. No matter if you’re relocating to a small town or metropolis, getting organized for the interstate move and creating a moving expenses checklist is essential. Having everything on paper will ease the whole process of finding and being sure who will be in charge of your belongings. That’s why checking online reviews is something you just have to do. Once you find a few companies that might meet your needs and budget, go on their websites and read each comment.
Don’t Neglect Recommendations You Get From Your Family and Friends
If a family member or a friend moved recently, not only can they help you with some relocation hacks, but they can also give you some recommendations for the relocation crews. In the whole relocation process, from getting enough packing supplies and also wrapping up fragile items, you probably couldn’t think about relocating away from your friends. Throwing a farewell party would be a great way to say goodbye to your loved ones and take the chance to ask for a recommendation.
Avoid Relocation Scammers and Be Aware of Red Flags
Since there are many cases of people who ended up without their belongings and money, you need to be extra careful when picking the professional movers. Once you search all the reviews online, you should contact each number you found and ask for the following information:
- Transparent terms and conditions,
- The conditions of the in-home estimate,
- Which charging method are they using,
- What kind of insurance do they offer,
- Can they send you a valid contract.
If the provided info doesn’t sound right, or you don’t get any, it should be a red flag. Keep up with your search until you’re 100% sure you’re in good hands.
Common Fraud Scenarios You Can End up With When Changing Home
Avoiding relocation scams should be your top priority, no matter if you’re relocating across the country or just down the street. Sometimes red flags aren’t that obvious, but on the other hand, some are screaming at you. So, let’s see the most common ones that will help you make the right choice:
- Unreasonable low quote – too good to be true estimates probably are the signs of non-legitimate relocation crew. If all other information is ok, then you should contact the team and ask if the storage unit and packing service are included in the price.
- Can’t find business insurance – if the crew isn’t insured, it’s a big red flag that they aren’t legitimate movers. All professionals are insured because they want to be protected by law and be able to pay customers if something gets damaged during transportation.
- No references – every professional team can’t wait to show you their references. If you run into a team that avoids that, you better continue your search.
- Pay upfront – if it’s your first time to move, you need to know that any kind of upfront payment, whether it’s a deposit or not, is a sign that a mover is fraudulent. You should pay for relocation services after the goods arrive at your new home. That is why relocation insurance is essential and why you need to pay extra attention to it.
- No bill of lading – if the movers can’t provide you with a bill of lading, you mustn’t hand them over to your belongings. It’s one of the biggest red flags of all because the bill of lading is an official contract between you and the company that has to be made before every shipment.
- Being unprofessional – if there is a lack of information on their website, if you can’t find a contact number or address, then something isn’t right. And a mover is unprofessional and most certainly a fraud if you can’t get in touch with him during transportation.
- Lack of interest – if a mover doesn’t ask you some basic questions, such as where is the new destination or how big your house is, search on.
In the Sea of Cross-Country Movers, How to Check If a Company Is Licensed and Insured
Feeling secure and free to leave your belongings to a relocation crew means you need to check if they are licensed, bonded, and insured. All professionals should have purchased the insurance policy needed.
What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed?
No matter how cautious you are, sometimes you can get scammed. If you’re in that situation, there’s no room for panic because you can’t just despair and do nothing. Instead, you can file a complaint to local authorities, Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). So, if your belongings are kept for too long or relocation costs are unreasonably high, then you need to act.
Though minor damages and a 10% higher price are not scams, illegitimate companies and relocation scams are a real problem in the US. Watch the video below and see the experiences of others.
Licensed Moving Companies Must Have FMCSA Number
We all know that there should be a license proving that that relocation crew is supervised and the customer’s interests protected. So, to run a quick check if there is such a license, go on the FMCSA website and hit the search button.
While you’re surfing the internet, ensure you also find the US Department of Transportation number (USDOT.) Every reputable team should have it at the bottom of their website.
All Terms and Conditions Should Be Clear
Once you receive a quote for the move, you should receive a valid contract, too. Take your time and read the entire contract carefully. If something isn’t clear or you just don’t understand what something means, feel free to call the team you hired and ask everything you want to know. The contract you receive must be legal and understandable because if it’s not, you might get scammed.
Which Cross-Country Moving Services Are Included in the Price
Before you get to the part where you’ll think about things to do after the move, you should be completely aware of all services that will be provided by the relocation team. So, ensure you get the storage facilities every reliable and professional crew offers to their clients, and if you opt to ship your car, see what transport options are available. Storage services are also quite convenient if you don’t know what to do with some stuff from your old house.
After Everything You’ve Read, Is It Better to DIY or Hire Professionals?
For some people, fraudulent scenarios can be too overwhelming and not worth taking chances with professional crews. However, an interstate move isn’t easy to plan and perform independently, and DIY-ing isn’t necessarily the cheapest option. From renting a storage facility and truck to finding helpers that will load and unload all of your belongings, you might spend a fortune. The essential thing is to learn to spot the red flags when finding that one trustworthy mover that will make your relocation a breeze.