Moving is a crazy and stressful time, perhaps one of the most stressful and craziest times of your life! And, when emotions are running high, a lot of things can happen that you can never predict. One of the biggest things that can happen when you move is the risk of being scammed. But, there are things you can do to minimize that risk!
While federal law requires that all moving companies MUST give written estimates, federal law doesn’t mandate that they must be binding. Make sure that you get a binding estimate or a “not to exceed” estimate, if it all possible. You don’t want ANY surprises when you arrive at your new home!
If you’re moving across country, you’ll need to make sure you plan your trip to arrive in time to meet your movers at your new home. Normally, when a moving company loads your belongings, they’ll give you a span of about 1-3 days for an anticipated arrival at your destination. Once they are on the road transporting your stuff and as they get closer to the destination, they’ll call you and let you know the exact date of arrival. Make sure you allow enough cushion in your trip if you’re planning a sightseeing vacation on the way to your new home!
If you’ve been given an estimate, make sure you know WHO that person is. Although against the law, there are times when a household goods broker will show up to your home and give you an estimate. (A broker is simply a person who “brokers” the move.) They aren’t responsible for any loss or damage- make sure you know WHO the responsible party is before ANYONE loads one stick of furniture on that truck!
According to Federal law, movers MUST offer a dispute settlement program in lieu of settling a loss or damage claim. Make sure you ask them about this and, if they give you that “deer in the headlights look”, run far, far away.
If you are required to sign ANY documents, make sure it is filled out as completely as possible, with the obvious exception being the shipping weight. One moving scam involves giving partially completed paperwork and requiring a signature from the person moving. Later, the scammer goes back and adds additional charges such as packing paper, bubble wrap and even loading charges! When in doubt, make ‘em fill it out!
You can request a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration detailing any complaints against any moving company you are evaluating. While there may be a charge for this report, it could save you some headaches down the road!
Even if you have an accurate home inventory, it’s a good idea to get an actual in-home estimate. Legitimate, experienced movers can give fairly accurate estimates with a 15 minute walk through- far more accurate than describing things over the phone!
As I’ve always said, the rule of thumb for any consumer looking to move is BUYER BEWARE! Be proactive and take preventative measures to minimize your risks and you’ll be MUCH happier with your move!