How to Check if a Moving Company is Legitimate or Not

Posted in How-to,Moving Tips & Tricks,Planning the Move on August 2, 2021

There are approximately 7,000 registered relocation companies in the USA. But how to check if a moving company is legitimate and how to know if you are dealing with fraudsters? Luckily, every entity that is in the relocation business has to follow some rules and regulations. With our tips, we will show you how to make sure a company is legitimate.

Even with strict laws and regulations, you can still be a victim of scammers. That is why it is crucial not to skip any step when it comes to choosing cross-country movers. Your relocation budget will stay intact, and most importantly, you will have a stress-free move. Keep reading and find out some of the best long-distance moving tips and tricks on how to recognize relocation scams.

Go With Recommended Companies – Ask Friends and Family for Help

The decision is made when you are relocating to a new state, and you are probably preparing your house for sale or thinking about it. But before you start with any preparations, you need to find reputable movers. Relocation to another state is not an easy job, and you would want your belongings to be in safe hands. There are around 7000 movers out there but probably even more fraudsters, so how to pick the right mover?

Well, like in any undertaking, the best recommendation is when it is given in person, so ask your friends and family if they can give you some advice. When a recommendation is given first hand from a family member or friend, it is almost 100% sure to be the best choice. On the other hand, if you don’t have recommendations, you can do some things alone to investigate if the business is legit.

Long-distance movers unpacking furniture
A good recommendation is the best validation of quality

Check Out Movers Presence Online

When relocating to a new city, the first step is to find reputable movers, and with the help of modern technology and the internet, this has never been easier. Just go online and search for long-distance movers. And yes, of course, businesses can be legit and not have a website, but it is so rare nowadays that it is probably better to skip them. Furthermore, a website alone is not enough proof of legal service provider. You will need to gather more information online. If a company doesn’t have a website, you can still do research online. Go on forums, Reddit and Quora and see if there are any complaints about that particular entity.

Check Reviews on Moving Companies Website

Aside from forums, you can also look out for reviews on movers’ websites. Every legit business should have an open comment and review section on its website. Otherwise, you might think it has something to hide, and you’d probably be right.

Also, every reputable relocation service provider has social media accounts, so do research there as well. You will see the experience of people first hand. We don’t need to tell you to choose the one with the best reviews.

Girl checking on a laptop if a cross-country moving company is legit
Go through all forums and reviews

How to Check If a Moving Company Is Legitimate – Only Choose Among Licensed Moving Companies

So we went through the basic search you need to do when planning a move to another city, but as you know, reviews and comments can be fake too. Here is where the law steps in. There are tons of laws and regulations that serve to protect customers, and all you need to do is be well informed about your rights and responsibilities of the chosen company. Never choose a mover who does not meet all legal obligations. Law can only prevent crimes if you follow everything by the book. If not, the law can only protect you after the damage is already done.

Three Steps on How to Check If a Company Is Licensed and Insured

Relocating your entire life is stressful enough without worrying about whether your belongings will reach your new destination. And no matter what your reasons for a move are, you must check the license of a service provider you plan to hire. Best of all, information can be found online, so you will waste no time. Here is the information you need to gather:

  • USDOT number – According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA, all companies in moving across the country business must have a USDOT number. Aside from federal numbers, some states require their intrastate or interstate commercial vehicle registrants to obtain a USDOT Number. So, find out if your state is one of them.
  • Better Business BureauBBB is an organization that collects reviews and complaints about every business in the USA. Also, look up if you would-be helpers are members of the American Moving & Storage Association.
  • Do they have insurance – Every legit relocation service provider must have insurance in case of any damages, according to FMCSA regulations. They must offer their clients a basic, or mandatory policy. So when organizing your relocation, this question should be first on your moving to-do list.
Rules written with cubes
Make sure they do everything by the book

Do a Good Evaluation of Movers’ Professionalism

So you picked the crew to relocate you, and now it’s time to contact them to give you a free quote. That will be your first contact with them, and we all know that the first impression is the most important one. If you feel that you are dealing with amateurs who don’t know what they’re doing, you should give up right away. If the people you are talking to are rude and unpleasant, why would you want to cooperate with them? Also, if you ask them to give you some packing tips, for example, and they don’t know a thing about it, you should skip them too. So if they do not seem like they are doing this for years and don’t have a professional approach, your experience will probably not be so good.

You Understand All Terms and Conditions

One of the biggest relocation mistakes people make is that they are shy when talking to their agents, and they don’t ask as many questions as they should. So people end up with contract terms and conditions they don’t understand, and in the end, they feel like they have been scammed. Yet, a good services provider will make sure you understand everything the right way. In the end, it is in their interest that you are satisfied.

So be assured you read everything and ask about anything that is not clear to you. For example, is packing service included in the initial quote? Will the distance and length of stairways change the price of cross-country moving services? Will your belongings be in storage facilities for a longer period? These are all important questions you must ask your agent if you wish to move efficiently.

Man writing a contract for cross-country moving
Understand every letter in your contract

Red Flags to Watch Out for

Relocating to a new home is stressful since there are just so many things you need to worry about, from packing fragile items to finding materials for babyproofing your new house (if you are relocating with a newborn, of course.) But even if you are relocating alone, this will be exhausting, especially if you are relocating without a job. You will probably be occupied with getting a job before your move and not thinking about scammers. But if you don’t want lawsuits to be the first thing to do after you move, read on very carefully and watch out for red flags.

Low Quotes Are Maybe Tempting, but Better Skip Them

Picture this: a guy comes and tells you he will load and unload all of your furniture, pack your shoes, dishes, books, and all your clothes, and all that for a reasonable price, way below regular offer on the market. It sounds tempting, but do not fall for this. FMCSA dictates that every entity that provides relocation services must provide free in-home estimates of a move to protect the clients from unfair market prices. This way, you can see how much do movers cost approximately and avoid being scammed in the process. Go online and see other people’s experiences with hiring a cheap provider. Most of them had to pay even more in the end if they wanted their belongings back.

They Avoid Questions and Offer No Contract

Ok, if someone offers you to cooperate without any contract, just on their word, they are probably not legit. Even though oral contracts are legally binding in most states, your lawyer would advise you to write the agreement down. That is because relocation contracts are usually a bit more complex than agreeing to trade your old lawn mower for 20 bucks.

Think about insurance, hiring a driver, renting a truck, getting a car shipping service, renting a storage unit, or a crew of professionals who will perform the actual move. All these different services should be accounted for in one contract. So make sure you have it all written down in order to have things running smoothly. Also, another huge red flag is when the services provider you hired avoids answering your questions or has unclear answers. If most of the answers are in a manner like “don’t sweat about it, we will figure it out along the way,” they are probably running shady biz.

They Refuse to Give You in Home Estimation

As we mentioned above, according to FMCSA rules and regulations, all companies must give a free in-home estimate of your move before they give you a price. So if someone refuses to give you this estimate, they break the rules and are probably fraudsters. No one can give you a quote without seeing your belongings, and only after that will you get the real price.

For example, the price will not be the same if you have to move a piano or a couple of chairs. In order to make things easier for you and the team who is coming to give you an estimation, it would be good if you can already make a household inventory list of things you plan to move.
Look up his video for more tips on how to avoid scammers when interstate relocating.

When Cross-Country Moving, Do Not Go With First Choice

As you can see, moving cross country is pretty much regulated, and if you choose the right cross-country movers, your experience will be without much fuss. But when you are done with your research, never ask for a quote from only one side. Pick at least three companies and ask for in-home estimation, and in the end, go with the one that suits your budget and needs best.

Do not try to reduce relocation costs by picking shady biz below market price. If you wish to reduce some costs, go with legit businesses and relocate in wintertime when prices are way lower. Once you decide where to live, go through these steps and tips and find the most professional crew to help you move.

Daisy Wilson

Daisy was born in Salt Lake City and in her free time, she writes about moving and watches Charmed.