Over forty-five million people move each year in the United States, which means moving companies can be found (almost) anywhere. But you want the perfect mover you can trust to handle your sentimental and valuable possessions. If you follow the news, you’re sure to learn about moving scams, especially in the spring and summertime. Take this one, for example.
You’re going to want to research at least three moving companies to compare estimates. In this post, you’re going to learn the top questions to ask a moving company and the answers you’ll want to hear. You’ll also learn the “🚩 RED FLAG” answers that will keep you away from swindlers.
#1 - Are you a licensed company?
You may be persuaded by inexpensive Craigslist movers or anonymous “movers” that guarantee a flat price. To legally operate a moving business in PA, a relocation firm must have the proper registration. This includes a U.S. DOT number and an MC Number for long distance relocations.
To check if a moving company is licensed, visit the FMCSA website.
🚩 THE RED FLAG: the mover refuses to give you their licensing information & doesn’t include it in any formal documentation.
#2 - Are you an insured business?
Accidents happen. Moving is no easy feat. No matter how careful your movers are, your belongings or property could sustain damage during the moving process. It’s important to hire a fully insured mover for this reason. All registered household movers must follow the federal and state provisions for any damages caused by their negligence.
Valuation is the amount of liability a moving company will accept for the value of your goods if damaged or lost while in their possession. Your mover must provide options for Automatic Coverage and Full Replacement Valuation. In return, you should be realistic with your expectations about the policies they follow. For example, your mover will happily move your piano, but it’s your responsibility to get it tuned after transport.
🚩 THE RED FLAG: the moving company says, “don’t worry about it” or “that never happens”. They romanticize their words and avoid the question completely. Scammers have a history of disappearing once you need to file a claim or refusing liability all together.
#3 - Where are your headquarters and can we stop by?
Most think this isn’t an important question but it’s one to consider. Scammers are known to run their stings without an office. They hire untrained – sometimes illegal - laborers and rent unmarked moving vans.
Reputable movers have a place of operation to dispatch & coordinate moves. Think about it: they need somewhere to park the moving trucks, right? When you visit, make sure the moving trucks match their company name and the correct license numbers are found on the sides of the vehicle.
🚩 THE RED FLAG: the mover refuses to give you any information when you ask for full names, business hours and addresses. A common excuse scammers use is that it’s unsafe for you to visit. If you’re calling, make sure they answer the phone with their business name and not just “movers” or “moving company”.
#4 - How long have you been doing business?
Moving companies with a history are far more reputable than the ones that just started their operations. Older movers know the “ins and outs” of the relocation industry and have the knowledge to answer your questions efficiently. If you’re searching for a family owned mover, this is especially important, since they’ll have relationships with their employees to make your experience more personal.
As an extra measure, search their profile on the Better Business Bureau to find the year the business started.
🚩 THE RED FLAG: a “brand new” moving company with zero online presence. Scam artists with a poor reputation are known to change their business names constantly as a means to “start over” and continue their schemes.
#5 - I’m moving! Where do I start?
Moving companies handle relocations every day, but you only move a few times in your life. This is the perfect question to ask because it lets the mover take charge and ask you the questions.
You’ll want to get a feel for the mover once you ask this question. Check and see how confident they are and how comfortable they make you feel. Your first impression will help you decide on which mover to choose once you get your last estimate.
The moving coordinator must suggest a free, in-home estimate. The in-home estimate gives you the opportunity to meet with a representative, learn more about the company and the approximate costs associated with your relocation. Remember, always arrange for a visual inspection and always get your estimates in writing.
🚩 THE RED FLAG: the mover gives you a flat fee price, doesn’t suggest a visual inspection, or doesn’t give a price at all!