Consumers can rely on new protection when hiring a moving company. A new law is on the books, giving the Transportation Department more power in dealing with unscrupulous moving companies. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will have access to fines of up to $10,000 per day to repay victims of moving company scams.
In the United States, there are over 4,400 moving companies completing an average of 2 million moves per year across state lines. The FMCSA oversees these companies and has the authority to help victims in a number of ways. In the year 2011 the FMSCA processed over 2800 complaints against moving companies and shut down 75 companies. These numbers represent a 17% increase from 2010. One of the most common scams is for a company to hold a consumer’s possessions while demanding the customer pay additional fees to regain their possessions.
Consumers can protect both their property and their finances by following some simple guidelines:
• Only deal with licensed moving companies.
• Demand an in-home estimate. Many scammers offer non-binding estimates over the phone and then increase the price when delivering goods. Movers are required to offer in-home binding estimates. If you are dealing with a mover who refuses to deliver this, contact the FMSCA.
• Research complaints before hiring a company. Use a site like https://www.protectyourmove.gov/ to do complete research on any company you are considering. This resource is maintained by the Department of Transportation and offers a great deal of information designed to help educate consumers.
• Don’t pay a deposit. Logic would dictate that a company who is in possession of virtually all of your worldly belongings does not need an additional deposit. Most legitimate moving companies agree and therefore do not require a deposit.
Many scam companies find it simple to create professional looking websites hoping to draw in unsuspecting consumers. They look for potential victims by searching for homes that are newly on the market. Starting in October of 2014, new moving companies will have to pass tests on consumer protection and estimating. While the existing and future laws are a great help, your best protection against a scam is knowledge. Shop around, do your research and become as educated as possible.
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