Protect yourself from moving scams - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Protect yourself from moving scams

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(WMC) - Following a few simple rules when looking for a mover will go a long way toward protecting you from being victimized by scammers, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA).

More than 37 million Americans -- or about 13 percent -- move to a different home every year, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Unfortunately, every year, the BBB receives complaints from consumers who have fallen prey to dishonest and sometimes unlicensed moving companies.

The BBB received more than 8,400 complaints against movers in 2009. The complaints are primarily about damaged or lost goods and final prices in excess of original estimates. In a common worst-case scenario, the moving company will essentially hold the customer's belongings hostage and require thousands of dollars to unload the truck.

"Virtually anyone with a truck and a web site can claim to be a mover, and they can't all be trusted to adhere to standards for honesty and ethical conduct," said AMSA President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr. "When it comes to such an important decision, you can save a lot of heartache by doing just a little homework to track down the companies that put customer service and integrity first. For interstate moves, that means an AMSA certified ProMover."

"Checking a mover's credentials is critical and easy. Last year alone, consumers relied on the BBB more than 1 million times for finding a trustworthy mover," said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York. "When making the final choice, go with a BBB-accredited business or, at the very least, choose a business that has a good rating with the BBB."

BBB and AMSA offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:

  • Research the Company Thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify at www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating with your BBB; BBB maintains more than 17,000 reliability reports on movers across North America. Having at least a satisfactory BBB rating is one of seven screenings that AMSA relies on when authorizing its interstate mover members to display the ProMover logo. ProMover is the sign of a quality, professional mover who has pledged to abide by the organization's Code of Ethics.
  • Get at Least Three In-Home Estimates. No legitimate mover will offer to give you a firm estimate either online or over the phone. Also, keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic "low-ball" offer that may eventually end up costing you more.
  • Know Your Rights. Research your rights as a consumer with both the state you currently reside in and the location where you are moving. Enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or decides to hold your belongings hostage.

More tips and information on how to choose a mover and plan your move are available at AMSA's consumer Web site, www.moving.org; and the U.S. Department of Transportation's site, www.protectyourmove.gov. To research a mover or find your nearest Better Business Bureau, visit www.bbb.org.

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