How to Check if a Moving Company is Legitimate

Don’t get fooled by cheap moving rates. Those companies are not licensed, insured, or bonded. As a result it could equal one major moving headache just to save a few bucks.

While most moving companies in California are reputable businesses, a few bad apples still remain – along with their victims’ cautionary tales. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a growing number of complaints have been filed against movers lately – many of which are due to the “fraudulent practices… of rogue movers.”

If you’re going to fork over the money for a mover, it’s your responsibility to make sure the moving company is legitimate. After all, moving day is stressful enough without entrusting your precious belongings to the wrong people. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to check out the credibility of a moving company before you even pick up the phone. Here’s how to know if a mover can be trusted with your stuff.

Are you hiring a licensed moving company?

Before hiring a moving company, it’s important to make sure the mover is properly licensed and insured. Thankfully, we’ve done this for you – as every moving company in Moving.com’s large network of professional movers is required to be licensed and insured. You can find our list of reputable movers in our Moving Company Directory.

It’s important to note that while interstate movers are required to register with the Federal government and can be found in the U.S. DOT system, local movers are only regulated by the state. Every state has their own licensing regulations, so you should read up on your state’s requirements to ensure that your local mover is legitimate.

According to the FMCSA, interstate movers are required by law to offer two types of liability options: Full Value Protection and Released Value. The FMCSA defines these options, below.

Full Value Protection: “your mover is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged goods in your entire shipment…This is the more comprehensive plan available for the protection of your belongings.” The cost of Full Value Protection varies by mover.
Released Value Protection: “The most economical protection available is Released Value, since it is offered at no additional charge. However, the protection is minimal. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per article.”
You can read more about the specifics of both options on the FMCSA website. In addition to offering you liability options, your mover must have their own insurance as well. Moving companies should be able to provide you with proof of insurance upon request.

Are there moving complaints?

As my mother used to say: “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” When you see multiple complaints from customers, take note! This often signals a red flag. You can check for official complaints filed with the FMCSA by clicking on the “reviews” of each moving company listed in our Moving Company Directory.

If you’re embarking on an interstate relocation, you can also check the FMCSA website, directly, for more information on any official complaints. Every interstate moving company should obtain a U.S. DOT number. As part of this system, consumers can now enter the moving company’s number into the FMCSA’s search engine, located under the “Search Movers & Complaint History” website tab. This search tool reveals registered interstate movers’ complaint history (or hopefully, lack thereof).

I also recommend checking the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see any complaints filed against both intrastate and interstate moving companies. The BBB is a non-profit organization helping people find companies they can trust. If a moving company has been accredited by the BBB, it means the movers have met the organization’s accreditation standards.

Did you check the moving reviews?

When it comes to choosing a trustworthy moving company, checking reviews on Moving.com’s Moving Company Directory is a good place to start. The directory includes customer reviews for more than 600 moving companies nationwide. For your convenience, their reviews also include: the moving company’s U.S. DOT number, specific moving services, fleet size, Better Business Bureau rating, any official complaints filed with the FMCSA, and whether the moving company has any association with the American Moving & Storage Association.

I also recommend asking your neighbors, friends and family for recommendations. Listen to their personal experiences with various moving companies. Check Nextdoor.com (a social network for your neighborhood community) to ask neighbors for suggestions. Check Yelp and other review sites – just be aware that the internet is filled with scams and fake reviews.

Did the mover see your things before giving you an estimate?

Moving companies should perform either an in-person inspection or a video survey of your belongings before giving you a quote. Otherwise, you could end up with a bill that far exceeds the original estimate. If they offer to give you a quote over the phone or internet, based on your own account of your household goods, run! This red flag could mean a potential moving scam. Rule of thumb: any company that quotes you a firm price without surveying your things by video or in-person, probably shouldn’t be trusted. To ensure you get the best deal, I recommend comparing at least three or four quotes from various moving companies.

After an inspection, the movers should send you their estimate (and other possible charges) in writing – leaving no unwelcome surprise costs for later. If the moving company’s quote is noticeably more or less expensive than other moving company estimates, this should also be a big red flag.

Are the movers professional?

Besides the technicalities of licenses and insurance, consumers need to use common sense when hiring a moving company. Be on the lookout for whether or not the movers are true professionals. Do they have a real office and business email address or a free address such as @yahoo.com or @hotmail.com? Is the moving company part of a reputable van line? Are they wearing uniforms and driving professional moving trucks? Is the estimate too good to be true? Do they possess an official business license? If your gut tells you something’s off, trust your instincts and keep searching.

Thankfully, there are plenty of reputable movers in San Diego – all licensed and insured – available to help you with your moving experience. Why not give Aloha Movers a try? We offer free estimates over the phone or you can get the convo going by simply filling out our free moving estimate form.

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