There are a lot of great moving companies out there, but a moving business can also be a guise for a scam meant to extort money from innocent people by holding their belongings hostage. There are some tried and true ways to avoid having this happen to you. To keep your move stress-free and honest, keep an eye out for the following red flags when you’re vetting movers:
If you're hiring a mover for an interstate move, they’ll need a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) license. For local movers, requirements will vary based on your state. Some states still require movers to hold a valid license from the USDOT, but not all do. Check with your local or county consumer affairs office or your state attorney general’s office to know the rules in your area.
Once you know if your state requires movers to have a USDOT license, you can check for a list of registered movers to ensure your chosen moving company complies.
If you’re moving internationally, be sure to ask if the company is registered with an international movers’ federation. If they are registered with a federation, ask to see proof of that membership as well as the company’s Federal Maritime Commission number.
Long-distance moves can be within the same state, but often this term is used to mean a move that crosses state lines. If that’s the case for you, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure your moving company has the licenses needed to transport your things from one state to another. Local moving companies may need licenses but have fewer requirements than long-distance movers.
It’s okay to be overly skeptical if you ask a mover if they handle long-distance or interstate moves and you get an answer like “We can” or “That should be fine.” There are specific rules around interstate moves, and your mover should be confident in their answer, indicating that they’ve done this before and have the required certifications and licenses.
Smaller moving companies can be great to work with when you hire movers. However, you may want peace of mind with a recognizable, big-name company for long-distance moves.
Be sure to research long-distance move insurance options. Be clear that your goods must be insured from the start to the end of the journey. Be sure to ask your moving company for a free moving valuation. Finally, always ask for three different cost estimates. An in-person estimate not only provides you with financial considerations, but allows you to evaluate the professionalism of the company. Once you choose a moving company, you have made a commitment. It makes sense to do research up front to make the move safe and efficient.
The worst-case scenario when you hire movers is paying a large upfront deposit and then your belongings disappear. Calls and emails go unreturned for days or weeks, and finding an address for the company is difficult or impossible. Some scams demand more money for the safe return of your property, which could be damaged if you even get it back.
Taking the precautions we’ve outlined will help you avoid this situation. Still, suppose you have a bad experience with your moving company. In that case, you can take steps to help others avoid having the same experience as you:
Below is a handy list of times to get in touch with moving companies to have the smoothest moving experience.
As you’re planning a long-distance move, consider all the options available.
Hire professional movers for everything.
This is the easiest option. Having pros move your things frees you to travel to your new location on your timeline. Maybe you take a vacation on your way or visit family or friends!
However, having professional movers take on an end-to-end job is the most expensive option. Your property will be out of your sight and control during the move and you’ll need to pay for third-party insurance.
Rent a moving truck and pack it yourself.
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to move long distances, this is it! You get to keep your things with you during your whole move and if you plan your route well, you can make some fun road trip stops.
While this is the least expensive option, you’ll need to invest the time to load your moving truck, which is a labor-intensive job. Plus, someone needs to drive the truck, which can be an experience if you’ve never driven a large vehicle before.
Rent a moving truck, but hire movers to help load and unload.
This option allows you to leave the heavy lifting to the pros and since movers charge by the hour, if you’re well-organized, you can have them in and out in a few hours for a reasonable price. Movers also come prepped with plastic wrap and will disassemble furniture like your bedframe or dining room table if you don’t have time to do it yourself.
If you choose this option, make sure you label all boxes by room so you can avoid a chaotic unpacking experience. Remember, you’ll still need to have someone onboard used to driving a large moving truck and you won’t have the same flexibility to travel on your schedule since you’ll be paying by the day for your rental truck.
Hire furniture movers and drive the smaller items in your vehicle.
This option allows you to hire out moving the cumbersome things, saving your time (and your back) and if you coordinate with your moving company, you can have all your furniture delivered when you arrive, making the move-in process more pleasant.
Be aware that long-distance furniture movers charge by weight, so if you have lots of heavy wood furniture, it can get costly. Also, fragile items, like glassware, need lots of packing material, so they don’t break during travel. You might end up with more boxes than you can fit in your vehicle.
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using this company for the third time and it is only getting better!!
They stole a $160 bottle of unopened Chanel cologne from me. They removed the bottle from the unopened package, then put the empty package back into the storage container. The one mover made several comments about my colognes, and even mentioned how good ...
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It was a pleasure working with Mario and his team. He replied quickly to my initial inquiry and gave a reasonable estimate. He was professional in his demeanor. We got another estimate from another company, and that estimate was actually slightly lower...
The work was done quickly and met all the contract requirements. The price was fare. I will be recommending this company to others.
Mario and his team built my Deck from start to finish in seven days at the very reasonable price that agreed upon. The quality of his work was exceptional. His crew removed all papers, plastic bottles, and debris from my yard each evening before they left...
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Mario came on time for the estimate, provided it within 2 days, and sent a team to complete the job within the week. We had them tear up our existing wood decking and put down composite decking. They were within budget, courteous, clean, and very effici...