Know your rights, spot the red flags of moving fraud and tips for a successful move. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, publishes four helpful booklets detailing your rights and tips for a successful move:
• Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move
• Spot the Red Flag of Moving Fraud
• Tips for a Successful Move
• Moving Checklist
Important FMCSA FAQs and additional information can be found on the Protect Your Move website.
Start your research as early as possible. Taking time to carefully research your options will help you select a reputable mover. Consumers should check on a business' complaint history and reputation using sites such as the Better Business Bureau. Friends, neighbors, relatives and internet review services may also be able to offer suggestions.
Check their license or registration. For interstate moves, you can verify that a mover is federally licensed by checking the online FMCSA search application, or by calling (202) 385-2423. For Arizona in-state moves, you can verify that a mover is registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Of course, just because a mover filled out the appropriate forms does not mean that they'll treat you fairly, so do not use these databases as a substitute for the research mentioned above.
Get on-site inspections and written estimates. Dishonest moving companies will often give you a lowball estimate over the phone or email, and then demand far more after your goods have been loaded onto their truck or taken away. In contrast, most reputable moving companies will do an in-home visit in order to give you a more accurate estimate, and will provide that estimate in writing.
Obtain a written estimate and ask about charges. Moving companies may surprise you with hidden fees, so ask about all charges before selecting a mover, and find out what method they will use to calculate your bill. Be aware that although in-state movers are allowed to charge hourly rates, you cannot control how much time the moving company takes to move your belongings. Make sure your written estimate includes all charges, so you have something to rely on if the mover later tries to change the agreement.
Be careful with brokers. Ask moving companies if they are acting as a mover or a broker. A broker may have a website or salesperson, but will hire a third-party moving company to actually move your goods, and you have no control over who the broker chooses.
Move some items separately. If you have valuable items (i.e. cash, electronics or jewelry), important medical items (i.e. medications or inhalers) or confidential items (i.e. bank statements), move them yourself.