5 Quick Ways to Check if a Moving Company is Legitimate

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    Want to know how to check if a moving company is legitimate? Whether you’re just being proactive before your upcoming move or doing it after learning your lessons the hard way, doing your homework before committing yourself is well worth it.

    Americans move house relatively often, which makes moving big business in the United States. There is certainly no shortage of moving companies in the country to serve the numbers, with estimates putting the actual figure of relocation companies somewhere in the region of 7,000.

    Of course, for customers – as in every other industry – the more the number of service providers, the merrier. There are more options to choose from and the increased competition compels better service; with movers promising more reasonable rates.

    That, however, should not be misconstrued to mean every moving company you come across will deliver – or is capable of offering – an amazing experience. Even with the existence of laws and regulations, rogue movers are very much active in the industry, so knowing how to check if a moving company is legitimate can keep you from falling prey to unscrupulous operators.

    In this post, we’ll show you how to check if a moving company is legitimate: the things to look for when choosing a mover and some tips to help you identify fake moving companies from a mile away.

     

    Learn What Makes a Moving Company Legitimate

    When shopping for an ideal mover, first you must know how to check that a company is legitimate.

    And how do I know if a company is legitimate or not, you may ask?

    Well, it all starts by knowing how to pick out certified moving companies from the scammers – the keyword here being “certified”.

    If a moving company is a licensed operator, then that mover needs to be registered either with the State Department of Transportation or the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) – or both.

    For a local moving company to be considered legitimate, it needs to be licensed by the State Department of Transportation within the respective state it dispatches its services. Also known as intrastate or in-state movers, local moving companies are not allowed by law to provide their services beyond the boundaries of the licensing state.

    Interstate movers, for their part, are moving companies whose services spill over beyond state lines. For an interstate moving company to be considered a certified mover, it needs to be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You’ll know you are hiring a reputable moving company if they have a USDOT number and that number is verifiable.

    All licensed interstate movers have this number as proof of registration with the FMCSA, meaning that they must offer liability options and that they comply with federal regulations regarding safety. That’s how to know if a moving company is legitimate as they claim.

    Local movers are not required to have a USDOT by federal law. However, it’s worth noting that 38 states (as of the current count) require all movers operating within their geographical domain to have a credible USDOT number.

      Tempting Quotes and Mode of Payment

    Tempting Quotes and Mode of Payment

    A mover’s fees might be competitive vis-à-vis the average price range in the industry, but the lowest estimates can be fooling.

    Some companies (not necessarily scammers) use low quotes as bait to lure gullible customers, but it is not until when your belongings are in their custody that the games begin. Chances are you might end up paying more than you bargained for.

    Some movers have been known to go as far as holding customer possessions at ransom or even vanishing without a trace with the customer’s belongings. If the deal is too good, it probably is.

    As well, the mode of payment can reveal a lot about a mover.

    While a legitimate mover will provide you with options, some fake moving companies might insist on cash payments. Not only does cash make it harder to dispute a charge once you’ve paid, but payment methods such as credit cards leave a trail. Scammers will not want that.

     

    Check for Online Presence

    Anyone looking for tips on how to find out if a company is legitimate really cannot overlook this basic yet crucial aspect.

    You see, we live at a time when virtually every business worth its salt has an online presence of sorts. Anything to the contrary, therefore, means either the company is very new to the scene or they are simply not licensed movers. Plain and simple.

    How many years do they purport to have been in operation? If it’s more than 3 months and they barely have as much as a company website in place, that screams one thing: red flag!

      check online reviews

    Check Customer Protection Sites and Online Reviews

    Online reviews are a great way to gauge a business’ credibility. However, while you should not take all online reviews as gospel truth, especially the testimonials on a company’s website, for the most part, reviews are a good way to verify if a company is legitimate.

    Social platforms are a great place to fish for unadulterated customer reviews, so if the moving company has a presence on a network or two, great!

    But nothing beats customer protection sites. Some good ones to start you off include movingscam.com or doing an FMCSA complaint search.

     

    Red Flags to Watch Out for

    Whether you’re hiring a moving company at the last minute or considering booking in advance, knowing how to weed out fake moving companies from certified movers can be the difference between enjoying a stress-free move and a nasty experience.

    The points we’ve outlined above can tell you a lot about a moving company’s credibility. But there are other red flags to look out for. These include:

    • Tempting quotes – A mover’s fees might be competitive vis-à-vis the going rates in the industry, but the lowest estimates can be fooling. Some companies (not necessarily scammers) use low quotes as bait to lure gullible customers, but it is not until when your belongings are in their custody that the games begin. Chances are you might end up paying more than you bargained for. Some movers have been known to go as far as holding customer possessions at ransom or even vanishing without a trace with the customer’s belongings. If the deal is too good, it probably is;
    • They avoid giving in-home estimation – To avoid unwelcome surprises later, make sure you receive a free detailed quote based on an in-home assessment of your belongings by the mover, as is required by the FMCSA. It’s not like cast in stone that you have to pay the moving company the agreed amount anyway: tipping your movers and packers can always be done later if you’re satisfied with the service;
    • They offer no contract – But even certified movers offer video estimates as an option without necessarily having to visit the premises in person, a trend that particularly picked up during the COVID-19 era. In that case – or should you, the client, opt for this method – the moving company needs to a). make a comprehensive assessment of the belongings in order to give you a fair value and b). have the estimate and agreement written down in black and white and not as an oral contract;
    • They avoid answering questions – You can tell a mover is dodgy if they provide ambiguous answers to your questions or they find ways to avoid answering your questions;
    • Branding red flags – Some movers may have an online presence and have no problem providing an in-home estimate. However, if they show up in a truck or van without logos or their company name sounds suspicious, remember this: if it walks, quacks, and looks like a duck, chances are (yup!) it’s a duck. If the moving company’s salespeople do not provide identification or the crew is not donning company uniforms, they are probably not professional licensed movers.
     

    There is plenty of regulation in place to keep moving companies in check, but that does not mean there are no malicious outfits posing as certified moving companies.

    As an informed individual who is now aware of how to check if a moving company is legitimate, the onus is on you to be on the lookout for fake moving companies to avoid falling into a trap you might end up regretting.

    Some due diligence goes a long way.

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