Government website offers tips to protect your move

June 26, 2013 8:28:00 PM PDT
More people move in June than any other month, but it doesn't always go so smoothly. Last year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 8,000 complaints against moving companies.

Moving companies have a few tricks up their sleeve to get more money from consumers. But there are ways to avoid falling victim of their tricks and tactics.

Lauren Richeson is settled in her new apartment now, but for months, a moving company held her belongings hostage. That, even though she paid the total moving cost agreed upon -- $900 up front. When the movers got to her new home, they demanded $900.

"I freaked out. I refused. And so they shut the door, put my things back on and drove off with all of my stuff," Richeson said.

Richeson says her mother found the company in the phone book. It gave her a low estimate sight unseen.

"That's a bad sign. And never sign a document that has a lot of blank spaces that haven't been filled in. Another red flag? The movers are using unmarked trucks," Consumer Reports' Anthony Giorgianni said.

To find a legitimate mover with a good reputation, seek out recommendations from real estate agents or friends who have actually used the company.

There's a helpful website, protectyourmove.gov, that lists all companies licensed for interstate moves and tells you if there are any complaints.

You can also check with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

"If there's a problem, such as damaged or missing goods, notify the mover immediately. If you think you've been defrauded, contact your state attorney general or consumer protection department," Giorgianni said.

Richeson went after the company, calling the police and notifying several government agencies. She finally was able to recover her possessions without paying another cent.

Another thing to be aware of: Moving companies are allowed to charge a certain percentage above their estimate upon delivery. Also worth knowing is whether regulations are different if the move is out of state as opposed to within state lines.

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