AS IF MOVING weren’t stressful enough, thousands
of cases of interstate moving fraud are reported each
year involving con artists who offer low estimates,
then hold possessions hostage, threaten to auction
them and demand additional payments. There are
many respectable and professional movers out there.
Unfortunately, there are also disreputable ones.
Being informed is the best way to avoid hiring
a fraud. Here are some issues you need to be aware
of when you look for a mover.
Your rights. Your rights for an interstate move
are spelled out in two federal government publica-
tions. Your mover is required by law to provide you
with a copy of Ready to Move? (a copy can be found
on fmcsa.dot.gov; search “Ready to Move?”) with all
written estimates. When you agree to hire a mover,
you must then receive Your Rights and Responsibilities
When You Move ( fmcsa.dot.gov; search “Your Rights
and Responsibilities When You Move”). A mover
must also provide information on arbitration.
Most state governments regulate movers operating within that state. For a local move, check with
your state moving association or state consumer
affairs office for information.
Finding a reputable mover. Use the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
website ( fmcsa.dot.gov) or the American Moving
and Storage Association (AMSA) website (moving.
org) to research and investigate a potential mover.
Look for companies that have:
• Offices and a physical address in your area.
• A successful track record of being in business
10 years or more.
• A professional affiliation with the AMSA, the
national trade association for the professional moving industry.
Estimates. Get on-site, in-person written estimates from at least three different movers and compare them. Be wary of estimates given over the
phone or on the Web. A mover should not offer a
final estimate without seeing your home and
belongings. If an estimate is significantly low and
seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Liability and insurance. Ask your mover for
written details of protection plans. By law, the cost
of full-value protection must be included in interstate estimates. Full-value protection permits movers to limit their liability for loss of or damage to
articles of extraordinary value, unless you specifically list these articles on shipping documents.
To get “released-value protection”—the mini-
mum coverage of 60 cents per pound per item—
you must opt out of full-value protection. This
protection is different from traditional insurance,
which is written by a third party. Check your home-
owner’s insurance policy before purchasing third-
party insurance to see if you already have coverage.
Actions that may limit a mover’s liability include:
•Packing your own boxes. If the articles you
pack are damaged, it may be more difficult to establish a claim against the mover.
• Failing to notify your mover in writing about
articles of extraordinary value.
•Packing perishable, dangerous or hazardous materials in household goods without your
Do not sign a delivery receipt if it contains any
language about releasing or discharging a mover
Brokers. Moving brokers are not actual movers.
They are sales teams that book your move and sell
it to an actual moving company. Here are some key
things a moving broker must do:
•Be registered with the FMCSA and use only
movers that are FMCSA-registered.
•Have a written agreement with the movers
•Base binding or nonbinding estimates on
the tariff of the mover that will be transporting
•Have the mover that is transporting your
shipment perform a physical survey of your household goods if they are within a 50-mile radius of the
mover or its agent’s location, whichever is closer. It
is your option to waive this requirement.
To check whether your broker or mover is currently registered with the FMCSA, check complaint
history or file a claim against a mover, visit fmcsa.
Move ‘em out!
Don’t let con artists make a move on you
DAVID & AMANDA
David Horowitz is a leading
consumer advocate. David’s
daughter Amanda Horowitz
is the CEO of Fight Back! and
co-founder of fightback.com.
Questions and answers of the
greatest interest to Costco
members will be used in this
column (with the permission
of the contributor) and will be
posted on fightback.com.
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Please note we are not licensed
professionals in any field. If you are
seeking advice you should consult
with your own licensed professional.
We do not assume any liability or
responsibility for the interpretation,
application or accuracy of any information provided.
WETZEL & SONS have been in the moving busi-
ness since 1976 and have moved our family for
over 20 years. Owner Daniel Wetzel shares two
important tips to help you avoid moving fraud:
• Verify a company’s license and have them
provide certificates of insurance for liability
and workers’ compensation. You can verify
the license number on the U.S. Department
of Transportation database ( ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/
hhg/ search.asp). Look for companies that are
a member of your state’s moving association
• Take the time to drive by a moving company’s physical location. This in itself will say a
lot about the professionalism of the company.
Look at the appearance of their equipment. Go
in and meet the company’s personnel. Do they
appear to be professional and trustworthy?
Your time and effort will pay off.
FIGHT BACK! TIP