Whether it’s a long-distance move or you’re relocating within the same city, finding the right movers isn’t easy. Long-distance moves, however, add a whole new dimension to the search.
Although the internet is great for finding where to have dinner on a Friday night, it’s not the place to find a moving company. In fact, moving pros say that the best movers are those who are referred by others.
“Nearly all of the victims that contact us found their moving company on the Internet,” cautions the experts at MovingScam.com.
To avoid becoming a victim of moving fraud, keep the following tips in mind:
- If the company won’t send a representative to your home to give you a quote based on an onsite inspection, don’t consider using it.
- Find a moving company that has at least a 10-year history in the business.
- Avoid hiring a moving broker. This is a company that will sub-contract your job to another.
- Don’t hire a company whose representative fails to give you the legally-required pamphlet entitled “Your Rights and Responsibilities when you Move.”
- Never pay a deposit upfront.
- Don’t pay for the move until you’ve checked all of your belongings.
Once you’ve rounded up several movers who sound good, get the following information:
1. Ask for the company’s US DOT number
Believe it or not, there are hundreds of moving companies who lack something as basic as a license to transport belongings from one state to another. Those that are licensed will show up online, at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
Enter the company’s DOT number at the website and you can learn if its license and insurance coverages are current, the company’s size, safety record and crash information.
If your move will be within your current state, contact the state office which oversees moving companies. You can find a list of these at the FMCSA website.
2. How much will the company cover
Get very clear on the valuation coverage the company offers. This represents the amount the company will pay if your belongings are lost or damaged while in its care.
Interstate movers are required to offer two types of valuation coverage, Full Value Protection and Released Value Protection.
It’s important to understand the difference between the two and you’ll find an explanation on the FMCSA’s website.
Check your homeowners insurance policy to determine if your household items are protected under it during a move.
If not, you may want to look into purchasing third-party liability insurance, especially if you’ll be moving high-value items.
3. Ask for an itemized list of all fees
Insist on receiving a breakdown of all of the moving company’s charges, including surcharges for taking apart furniture, packing and unpacking and other miscellaneous charges.
If there are any charges you don’t understand, insist on a full explanation.
Don’t sign the contract until you understand everything in it, you’ve ensured the price is what you agreed to, the pickup and delivery dates are clearly listed, there are no blank spots and the representative has signed it.
The National Association of REALTORS suggests choosing from among the movers who are certified by the American Moving and Storage Association.