If you’re looking for a moving company on the Internet, do your homework first or your furniture may not be the only thing taken for a ride. Criminals posing as professional movers are commonplace, especially during the summer moving season. To provide consumers with a safe move, E.E. Ward Moving & Storage has earned an industry certification as a ProMover, and is providing these tips to help you avoid Internet moving scams:
1) Don’t be fooled by slick websites. Anyone with a few bucks can build a professional-looking website, but that alone does not ensure a professional move.
2) Check on the firm’s operating authority. Every professional interstate moving company is licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and has a Motor Carrier number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This number must be displayed on the company’s website. Intrastate movers have varying licensing requirements. To find a reputable intrastate moving company, contact the industry trade association in your state. Visit www.protectyourmove.gov/related-sites/movers-association/state-movers.asp for more information.
3) Look for the “bricks and mortar.” Professional movers will proudly post their full contact information, including a street address and phone number. The absence of any evidence of a real company should raise concerns. If the site does post the street address, do a Google Maps search to see if that address really exists, or contact your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau (“BBB”) to see whether the firm is associated with customer complaints. E.E. Ward is proud to have an A+ rating from the BBB.
4) Get at least three written in-home estimates. The Internet is full of “moving cost estimators,” but the only estimates that count are offered by a professional mover who visits your home. If someone offers to lock in an estimate over the phone, chances are high you may be getting scammed.
5) Use a ProMover. Use a certified mover, like E.E. Ward, who is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association. To learn more about protecting yourself and your family during your move, visit www.moving.org. For more tips on how to prepare for your move, visit our Web site at www.eeward.com.
6) Check references. It’s wise to use companies that display the ProMover or Better Business Bureau logo. But many swindlers will use those logos without authorization. Do your homework to verify that the companies using these insignia are doing so legitimately.
7) Avoid companies that require large deposits or down payments. Professional movers generally do not require a deposit. In fact, interstate movers are not allowed to require you to pay before you move. Remember, once a con artist has all your worldly possessions locked in a truck and you’ve handed over payment for the move, you’ve lost any bargaining power.
8) Avoid Internet brokers. Many people who enter their contact information on websites that promise to find qualified movers find themselves inundated with aggressive scam artists. It’s best to avoid these sites. If you do use them, create a new e-mail address to be used only for the move. Avoid giving your real phone number of possible.