10 Ways to Avoid Internet Moving Scams

If you're looking for an inexpensive moving company on the Internet, you'd better do your homework first, or your furniture won't be the only thing that gets taken for a ride. These ten tips will help you avoid moving scams.

"The nation's moving and storage industry is made up of courteous, hard working, dedicated professionals," said Linda Darr, president of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). "Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous characters who are sullying our industry's good name by using the Internet to prey on people during a very stressful time in their lives. Make no mistake, these people are not movers, they are criminals. And we're trying to put them out of business."

To address the problem, AMSA developed 10 tips that will help families avoid Internet moving scams.

  • Don't be fooled by slick websites. Anyone with a few bucks and a good IT person can build a professional-looking website. Don't be fooled by the flash.
  • Locate their operating license. Every professional interstate moving company will proudly display their U.S. Department of Transportation license and their Motor Carrier number on their website. If you don't see the license number, move on to another website.
  • Look for the 'brick and mortar.' Make sure the website lists a street address and then do a quick Google search to see if it really exists.
  • Get at least three written in-home estimates. The Internet is full of 'moving cost estimators,' but the only estimate that counts is one offered by a professional mover who visits your home.
  • Check references. If a company displays the Better Business Bureau or AMSA logo, verify that they are using these seals legitimately by contacting AMSA or the BBB.
  • Avoid companies that require large deposits or down payments. Professional movers generally do not require a deposit, so avoid those that do.
  • Avoid Internet brokers. People who enter their contact information on websites that promise to find movers often find themselves inundated with aggressive scam artists.
  • Be skeptical. Remember: if you receive an estimate that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Use an AMSA mover. To find an AMSA mover and to learn more about protecting yourself during your move, visit AMSA's consumer website, moving.org.
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