When it comes to moving across the state, we usually worry about several things: Will they charge us more? Will they break our china? But have you ever wondered how to check if a moving company is legitimate? It’s a perfectly reasonable question since you should trust the movers enough to let them pack all your belongings into their truck and leave without you.
We don’t want to scare you, but since the relocation industry is so large, and there are now thousands of companies offering to relocate your belongings across the state, you have to be aware that not all of them have your best interest in mind. Hence, we’ve prepared a brief guide through all the steps you should take before putting your belongings into the hands of movers.
5 Sure Ways to Check If a Moving Company Is Legitimate
Before we jump to our five general methods for determining whether a business is professional, we would like to point out one thing: listen to your instinct. If the movers don’t seem professional, or something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to cancel everything and contact someone else if you notice certain red flags. Now let’s go through the five vital elements every reliable and reputable mover should have:
- Free estimate – According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, every relocation firm should perform either a free in-home inspection of your stuff or a video survey and tell you how much your move will cost. In case they offer to give you a price based only on your description, do not accept that. You could be surprised negatively once the bill arrives. Also, once they arrive at your home, make sure they show you their identification. If not, that is a red flag.
- Check reviews – if you are wondering how to recognize fake moving reviews, we have to disappoint you, it is not easy. Fake reviews are pretty common, and they usually sound too good. Rely on the ones that seem genuine and don’t glorify the service in every sentence. Also, ask your neighbors, friends, or anyone that you know has recently moved; they should have some recommendations for you.
- Are they online – a reputable business has to be present online with its own website. Still, it should also be easy to find reviews and other information about it on some other webpages. If they are not online, then they either do not exist, or there is something shady about them. Do they display information properly, or do they not seem transparent? We are all looking to save money on moving costs, but sometimes it is better to pay slightly more and know that your belongings are in safe hands.
- Branding – every reputable company has their vehicles branded, and the same is with their employers. Their uniforms have to be in the colors of the company, with a visible logo. If a plain white truck arrives, and there are no signs of a logo, or the name is not displayed, ask for their identification cards to inspect. Otherwise, this can be considered as a highly suspicious situation. Think about some other most important questions to ask movers before you let them take your stuff.
- Certification – make sure to check if the moving company is properly licensed and insured. For that purpose, consult the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the American Moving and Storage Association. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) number is also crucial in this regard, but we will explain it more in-depth in the next section.
Additional Things You Should Do Before Hiring Movers
If you want to know how to avoid making moving mistakes, there is more to it than choosing the best-sized boxes for moving. Some webpages can help you inspect the credibility of companies and help you find a reputable mover who is not going to scam you.
How to Check the USDOT Number of Companies
Companies that use commercial vehicles for transport across state borders have to obtain a USDOT number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This number does not only identify the business, but it helps the government track and collect all the data, like crash investigations, compliance reviews, etc. But what is even more important is that you, as a consumer, can also use that information to check if the firm is registered and reliable.
You should be able to easily find those numbers on a company’s website, at the top or bottom of the home page. If it’s not there, ask them to send it to you. It shouldn’t be a problem if they have nothing to hide. Once you get those numbers, type them in FMCSA’s search app, and watch how their history unravels. Information regarding crash investigation reports, vehicle maintenance, unsafe driving, and many more will be right in front of your eyes.
And when it comes to insurance, the FMCSA stipulates that all companies in the business of interstate moving have to offer two types of liability options:
- Full Value Protection – in this case, the mover is required to replace “the value of lost or damaged goods in your entire shipment.”
- Released Value Protection – it’s the most affordable insurance option, but it offers minimal protection because the mover assumes liability for up to 60 cents per pound per article.
Examine the Company for Scams in Various Cities and States
No matter how hard you google, you can always miss some important detail, or the mover could have deleted negative comments so that you can’t get a clear picture. Unfortunately, relocation scams happen, which is why there are websites such as movingscam.com where you can inform yourself about the risks.
How to Know You Have Found the Best One
When relocating and hiring professionals to take care of packing and storage, your only concern should be how to tip movers. Because they have done their job so well. But to reach the point where you are so happy with their moving service, you have to pick wisely. Search and contact several different movers, ask for quotes and find the best deal, not just money-wise. If you are undertaking a move for the first time, you are probably unaware of how long the search for the best company is going to take. So arm yourself with patience and get ready to do some thorough research – it will pay off in the end.