Keep the Information Flowing
Small contributions go a long way. Your donation to Consumer Action, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, can help us cover the cost of research, writing, and translation of our materials. To keep our services free for those who need them. Select an amount to give.
Released: November 18, 2011
Help Desk FAQ
How can I avoid trouble with an upcoming move?
Moving, whether to a different neighborhood, city, or state, can be quite expensive and frustrating. Choose a reputable mover to avoid fraud. Always get a written estimate, order of service, bill of lading, and an inventory list from your mover.
When moving from one state to another, federal law protects your move. The moving company must provide you with a copy of your rights and responsibilities before your move. It must also be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), have a United States Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) number, and carry insurance. The website https://www.protectyourmove.gov/ provides guidance on how to plan your move.
Most states have similar requirements. Check with your local consumer protection office to find out which government agency regulates movers.
One of the most serious problems involve “hostage” situations, where the mover holds onto the consumer’s household goods until the consumer agrees to pay an exorbitant fee. Initially, the mover gives a low estimate. After the mover picks up the consumer’s goods, the mover asks for two or three times the amount of the original estimate. If the consumer refuses to pay, the mover drives away with the victim’s belongings. If you need assistance during a hostage situation, contact MoveRescue (http://www.moverescue.com/).
Another scam involves payment of a large deposit upfront and the mover does not show up on moving day.
If you have fallen victim to a moving scam, immediately report to:
- Your local district attorney;
- The state regulatory agency (if you moved within one state) or the FMCSA;
- Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General;
- The Better Business Bureau.
For example, some tips on choosing a reputable moving company are:
- Find at least three moving companies in your area that have been in business for at least 10 years;
- Get as much information about the moving company as possible, including their license numbers and references;
- Check the licenses on FMCSA website;
- Have the moving company come to your house to do an in-home estimate;
- Do not sign blank paperwork;
- Call the FMCSA hotline 1-888-368-7238 for complaint history
Some warning signs of disreputable mover:
- Estimates without an inspection
- No local address, license, or insurance
- Demand for payment upfront
- Unwillingness to put bids and quotes in writing
- Generic rental truck without professional looking signs or logos
Support Consumer Action
Consumer Help Desk
- Help Desk
- Submit Your Complaints
- Presente su queja
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Links to Consumer Resources
- Consumer Service Guide (CSG)
- Class Action Database
- Consumer Booknotes
- California Action Center
- Position & Issues
- Legislative Positions
- Coalition Efforts
- On Our Radar