Once you’ve compiled a list of potential moving companies, you can use the internet as a tool for researching these companies.
Check them out using information on their website:
If this does not result in an actual physical location that includes some sort of sign that has the name of the carrier, then this is a red flag that you may be looking at a fraudulent entity. Other red flags would include this address that is a personal residence or the location of another unaffiliated moving company.
Google the phone number
Find how many carriers and other types of companies this number is associated with. Fraudulent entities tend to change their business name once their reputation is tarnished, while keeping the same phone number. If the company has multiple names under the same phone number, then you will want to research each company to see if any are fraudulent or have consistent negative reviews.
If the links do not work or takes you to a different carrier’s social media page, this is a red flag that you may be dealing with a fraudulent entity. If the social media page has minimal or no activity within recent months — like pictures, posts or reviews— these are red flags that you may be dealing with a fraudulent entity.
In the majority of fraudulent entity’s websites, the pictures will be stock photos found on Google images. You will want to look for the entity’s mark to be on the shirt/uniforms of the people, trucks or boxes in the pictures. You will also want to look to see if that logo looks natural or if it was manipulated and placed fraudulently onto the image. This is likely the weakest evaluation tool, but it is worth looking for because a legitimate entity will have their logo on their uniforms and equipment.
Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), Yelp (https://www.yelp.com/), Google reviews, Facebook or any other consumer organizations in your local area for feedback from those who have previously used the moving companies you’ve selected. These reviews may also give you an idea of what is most likely to go wrong if the moving company is fraudulent.
The American Moving and Storage Association
Check to see whether the moving company is a member of the American Moving and Storage Association (“AMSA”). Many AMSA members are also participants in the AMSA Certified Mover and Van Line Program. AMSA certified moving companies and van lines have voluntarily agreed to abide by a Code of Conduct that requires complete disclosure of moving information to consumers, written estimates of charges, timely service and prompt response to claims and complaints. They have also agreed to arbitrate disputes of up to $10,000 arising from loss or damage to articles in your shipment. To learn more about AMSA or to find out whether the companies you are considering are certified members, visit their Web site at: www.moving.org
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
All interstate moving companies are required to be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) division that regulates moving companies. Call the moving company’s office and ask for their DOT number. If they are affiliated with a van line, then ask for the van line’s DOT number. Although this does not guarantee that you have found a reputable company, you certainly do not want to choose a company that doesn’t have a DOT number.
You can learn valuable information about your potential moving company once you have its DOT number.
Visit the following FMCSA website to check whether the moving company has the license authority to perform your interstate move as well as the required levels of insurance: https://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_menu.prc_menu.
Next, enter the moving company’s DOT number and press “Search.” In those results, click on the report tab under the view details column. Once you have located the FMCSA carrier report on the r moving company, look for the following information:
You will see three listings in the “Authority Type” row: Common, Contract, and Broker. The company you choose should at least have “Common” marked as ACTIVE. Also, “Household Goods” should be marked YES.
If neither of these are listed as active, then look at the Broker Authority. If ONLY Broker Authority is listed as active, then the carrier you are researching is not a carrier, but a broker.
A broker is a company that does not have the proper authority to transport your goods itself, but instead will charge you to find a carrier or moving company to transport your items. A fraudulent entity will not portray themselves as a broker and, in many circumstances, will be sending a suspect carrier to your home to transport your items without giving you the right to approve or disapprove of a carrier. MoveRescue suggests that you work directly with a carrier, so you can do your research on the entity that is going to be moving your household goods.
The company you choose should have both BIPD and cargo insurance on file with the DOT. If your moving company does not have valid authority to transport household goods or adequate insurance, then you need to look for a different mover.
If you are not satisfied with the research you found or are still concerned, contact MoveRescue and we can evaluate the entity and look to see if we have any additional information that could be helpful.