July 29, 2021 Posted in How-to
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience

How to Check if a Moving Company is Legitimate and Avoid Scams

If you plan to move soon and want to find reliable cross-country movers, it’s essential to know how to check if a moving company is legitimate. Relocations are demanding and complex and hard to pull without help. Being backed up by professionals makes this daunting process effortless, but it’s crucial to avoid being scammed.

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Reliable long-distance movers will make your move swift and easy

First of all, let’s take a look at some relocating statistics. Each year, there are around 3 million US citizens that are relocating to a new state. Since Americans tend to move a lot, up to 12 times during their lifetime, it’s only natural that the relocation industry is thriving. There are a lot of licensed moving companies at your disposal. Wherever in the country you want to move, about 7,000 different cross-country moving businesses operate in 13,900 locations across the US. But how to make sure a company is legitimate? There are specific steps you can take to be sure you avoid fraudulent businesses.

Looking For Movers? Here’s Where to Start

You’re relocating soon! We all have different reasons to move interstate. Some of us do it for a better work position because our new job requires relocation, while others leave their current place for a relationship and head out to be with their loved ones. But since it’s an expensive project, we usually want to look for the cheapest way to move out of state. A DIY move is always an option, but it can get overwhelmingly tiresome and even surprise you negatively in terms of reducing costs. If you want a stress-free move, your best bet is with a reliable relocation enterprise.

Reputable Moving Companies Have a Website

The best way to battle anxiety about moving out you must be feeling is to keep track of the tasks ahead. Good organization is the key, and that’s why you need to go a step at a time. One of the first things any of us do when we look for information is to google it. This is probably the easiest way to find some packing tips and tricks, but also to look for a relocation enterprise that will suit you. A legitimate relocating enterprise will have its website, where you can look over several things.

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Look at the websites of each relocating enterprise thoroughly and narrow down your search

Check the Review Section to See What Customers Have to Say

As important as it is to search for the best cities to raise a family in California for anyone that wishes to settle in the Golden State, equally important is to look at customer reviews of the company you’re considering hiring. Negative ratings will be the first signal that you should look for some other relocating enterprise. If positive experiences make up the majority of reviews, stick around and pay attention to some more factors.

Figure Out if the Business Went Through Several Name Changes – Legitimate and Licensed Moving Companies Should Not Change Names Often

Running a background check on a mover may sound like you’re a Sherlock Holmes wannabe, but here are some things you may spot this way. One of the common mistakes people make when they search for professionals to help them move is to skip a thorough look at the internet representation. Although some relocating enterprises might change their name due to moving a business to another state and being acquired by a larger enterprise, frequent name changes are a sign of a fraudulent past. One other thing you should look out for is the basic info, which includes a physical address and a phone number.

Ask Around for Referrals

Our friends and family are always there for support and can help us in many ways. It’s no different when finding the appropriate company to help you with the upcoming relocation. Since Americans tend to move a lot, there’s probably someone close to you that has moved in the recent past. They can give you recommendations for relocation companies or steer you in the right direction, so you know where to look. If you’ve already announced your move to your place of employment, perhaps some colleagues may also refer you to a reliable relocating enterprise.

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Your colleagues may have the right advice to give you

How to Check If a Company Is Licensed and Insured

While you’re trying to figure out which is the cheapest time of the year to move, you should set aside some time to do more digging for the right movers. As much as it is crucial to understand how car shipping works if you’re planning to ship your vehicle through an auto transport service, it’s essential to give your car keys to genuine professionals. A lack of online presence in today’s world raises suspicion, but there are a few other ways of checking the legitimacy of relocation business and whether it has proper insurance.

A Legitimate Mover Will Have a Registered USDOT Number With FMCSA

One of the most reliable options is to go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) site and look in their database. It’s mandatory for relocation businesses to have a USDOT number. It’s a unique identifier through which the government can access and monitor crash investigations and different inspections. This number will enable you to inspect whether an enterprise is appropriately insured and licensed, but you can also use it to review the safety information. Thorough checking is the next thing you should do right after you decide where to live.

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Look on the FMCSA site for the USDOT number

You’ve Narrowed the Number of Companies to a Few, Now What?

Since you’ve narrowed your choices down to about five businesses, it’s time to contact them to give you an estimate of the value of household goods. The way they give you a quote will also indicate their legitimacy, and you will know what to expect. If you’re wondering how much do movers cost for a one-bedroom apartment, you can get a rough estimate of the price for your move over the phone. Although, any reputable enterprise will send a relocation specialist to view your household belongings.

Ask For a Quote and Compare the Prices

While an estimator does a walkthrough in your home, they should ask you the right questions, such as what you plan to leave behind and will you be using their packing service along with other long-distance moving services. After that, you can get an accurate estimate based on the household inventory list of the items you want to be transported. It may happen that the relocation company has an hourly rate, so be sure you ask right away for the information.

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The Pricing Should Be Transparent

Different relocating businesses may offer different pricing options. Some may calculate the costs of your move based on the inventory list you provide them. Others will measure the weight of your household belongings and form the price this way. But there shouldn’t be any hidden costs included, and the pricing should be transparent. Keep this in mind when you contact them.

But, Will I Be Able to Lower the Costs?

After you get an estimate, you should still be able to reduce costs when relocating. You can do this by discarding and donating unwanted items because the fewer things you have to transport, the lower the price. Reliable relocation companies will have a list of items they won’t move, and they should provide you with it. It usually contains objects and materials that are toxic, hazardous, and flammable, so you should dispose of them before the move-out day, too.

Some Companies May Offer Free Storage

Most of us require some time to get settled in the new place, and that’s where self-storage will come in handy. The best relocation enterprises out there will even offer storage services free of charge for the first 30 days. If you require more extended storage, you should ask about the pricing options. Your stored belongings should be covered by insurance, so be sure you ask about an insurance policy.

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The best businesses offer free storage during your move

How to Make Sure a Company Is Legitimate? Spot the Red Flags When You Look For Long-Distance Moving Companies

All of these steps are important so you can avoid relocating scams. If you are not sure how to spot them right away, here are some red flags listed:

  • Even a glance at the company’s background shows that they went through a frequent name change. This is done to hide a fraudulent past, as well as negative reviews and complaints.
  • If they offer you a low ball estimate that’s significantly cheaper than what any other company’s offered, it’s a red flag. The quotes that are too low to be believed in are usually far from true. What initially sounds cheap will eventually lead to a much higher price than with the most expensive enterprise as they typically include many hidden fees and additional costs throughout the relocation process.
  • Some companies might ask you to pay a certain amount upfront, which is understandable. However, asking for a hefty deposit should raise suspicion. The fraudulent movers might take off with your money in their pockets, never to be seen again.
  • Some movers may offer you to sign a blank or unclear contract. That is a major red flag and a sign that you should look for another company.
  • Professional relocation enterprises shouldn’t base their estimate on the volume of belongings.
  • If they don’t provide you with a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When you Move,” you should require it. It’s a copy of the interstate relocation industry’s official rulebook, and the federal law requires each relocation enterprise to provide their customers with it.

Any of these things should make you cautious and steer you in the direction of other companies.

You’ve Been Scammed, and Now What?

The Better Business Bureau receives an average of 13,000 complaints, negative reviews, and reports on relocating scams annually. If you weren’t careful enough, it might happen that you got scammed and ripped off. The first step you should take is to go online and write a review, stating your issue with the said scammers and filing a complaint. You should take into consideration taking your case to a small claims court and ask for financial reimbursement.

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As soon as you realize you’ve been scammed, file a complaint with the BBB

Before the Professionals Arrive, Take Final Steps

The move-out day approaches, and you can use some good relocation day tips to help you out. You can do certain things to prepare for movers and be entirely sure you’ll avoid any mishaps. While you’re using the best-sized boxes to pack your stuff, take your phone to take a photo inventory. Try to snap a photo of the contents of each box, so you can file a claim if anything gets damaged or missing.

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A photo inventory will be of great help when you want to be sure everything is intact

Why It’s Crucial to Know How to Check If a Moving Company Is Legitimate

For a move to be swift and easy, you should prepare a bag of relocating essentials and arm yourself with knowledge of various relocating hacks. But the crucial step that makes any move effortless is hiring the right relocation enterprise. These tips will ensure you choose wisely and avoid being scammed, so your move can be made in an instant and without any stress.


How Do I Check if a Moving Company Is Licensed and Insured?

You can check if a moving company is licensed and insured by contacting your state’s Department of Transportation or Public Utilities Commission. You can also use the FMCSA’s SAFER System to check if a cross-country moving company is registered with the FMCSA and has a valid USDOT number.

What Should I Look for When Checking a Moving Company’s License and Insurance?

When checking a moving company’s license and insurance, you should verify that they have a valid and current license and insurance coverage that meets your state’s requirements. You should also check that the company’s name and address match their license and insurance documents.

How Do I Check if a Moving Company Is Registered With the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?

You can check if a long-distance moving company is registered with the FMCSA by using the FMCSA’s SAFER System. This system provides information on a moving company’s safety record, licensing, and insurance status.

What Are Some Red Flags to Look for When Checking a Moving Company’s Legitimacy?

Some red flags to look for when checking a cross-country moving company’s legitimacy include:

  • No physical address or phone number,
  • Poor ratings and reviews,
  • Lack of licensing and insurance,
  • Unprofessional behavior.

How Do I Check a Moving Company’s Ratings and Reviews?

You can check a moving company’s ratings and reviews by searching for their name on websites like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Google Reviews, and Angie’s List. You can also ask for references and contact them directly to get a sense of the company’s reputation and reliability.

What Should I Do if a Moving Company Has Poor Ratings or Reviews?

If a moving company has poor ratings or reviews, you should consider looking for another long-distance moving company. You can also ask the company for an explanation and give them the opportunity to address your concerns.

How Do I Check a Moving Company’s History of Complaints and Disputes?

You can check a moving company’s history of complaints and disputes by searching for their name on the Better Business Bureau’s website or the FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint Database. These databases provide information on complaints and disputes filed against moving companies.

What Should I Do if a Moving Company Has a History of Complaints or Disputes?

If a moving company has a history of complaints or disputes, you should consider looking for another moving company. You can also ask the cross-country company for an explanation and give them the opportunity to address your concerns.

How Do I Check if a Moving Company Has a Physical Address and Phone Number?

You can check if a moving company has a physical address and phone number by searching for their contact information on their website or using a search engine like Google. You can also check if their address and phone number match their license and insurance documents.

How Do I Check if a Moving Company Has a Website and Online Presence?

You can check if a moving company has a website and online presence by searching for their name on a search engine like Google. You can also check if they have social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What Questions Should I Ask a Moving Company to Check Their Legitimacy?

To check a moving company’s legitimacy, you should ask them questions like:

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Can you provide references?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your process for resolving disputes?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Do you have a physical address and phone number?

How Do I Check a Moving Company’s Pricing and Payment Methods?

To check a long-distance moving company’s pricing and payment methods, you can ask for a detailed estimate that outlines all the costs involved in the move, including any extra fees and charges.

Make sure to compare the estimates of different companies to get a sense of what is reasonable. You can also ask the company about their payment methods and policies, such as whether they accept credit cards or only cash.

What Should I Do if a Moving Company Asks for a Large Deposit or Payment up Front?

If a moving company asks for a large deposit or payment upfront, this could be a red flag of a scam. Legitimate cross-country moving companies usually require a deposit of no more than 20% of the total cost, and they typically don’t ask for payment until the move is complete. If a company asks for a large deposit or payment upfront, it’s best to be cautious and consider using a different moving company.

How Do I Check a Moving Company’s Equipment and Staff?

You can ask the company about the size and condition of their trucks, as well as the experience and training of their employees. You can also ask for references from past customers who have used the company’s services. If possible, you may want to visit the company’s offices or warehouse to see their equipment and operations in person.

What Should I Do if I Have Doubts About a Moving Company’s Legitimacy?

If you have doubts about a moving company’s legitimacy, you can do some research to gather more information. Check the company’s license and insurance status, as well as their ratings and reviews. You can also look for any history of complaints or disputes with regulatory agencies or consumer protection organizations. If you still have doubts, it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose a different moving company.


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