LISA POWELL / STAFF

Moving can be challenging and stressful

Last year, 35.1 million Americans moved. Around half of all moves take place in the summer between the beginning of May and Labor Day. Movers are one of the top categories of companies searched on the Better Business Bureau website, bbb.org, which has BBB Business Profiles on more than 20,000 moving-related companies.

Moving can be a challenging task, but moving companies can help. However, BBB warns of moving companies with unethical practices, such as overcharging, late deliveries and damaged or missing goods.

BBB and the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) offer the following tips to help you prepare for a move:

• Do your research. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 for a list of BBB Accredited Movers and Business Profiles on one’s you’re considering. Many movers are also AMSA ProMovers and can be found on the website, www.moving.org. Or, call the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Safety Violation and Consumer Complaints hotline at (888) 368-7238 and ask about complaints against your moving company. Also, note the length of time a company has been in business and read reviews from previous customers. Get recommendations from family and friends. You can also ask movers for references.

• Visit the company. Pay a visit to the company to check out its facilities and equipment. Ensure trucks are clearly labeled and are licensed by the FMCSA.

• Get at least three written in-home estimates. Understand not all price quotes are binding. Show the mover everything that needs to be moved and be wary of unusually high or low estimates.

• Pick the right protection for you to cover any loss or damage done during the move (limited liability, added valuation or full-value coverage). Before purchasing coverage from your mover, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see what it will cover.

• Consider how you pack. If you pack your own boxes, many movers will not accept liability for items they didn’t pack.

• Be wary of unusual requests. If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance, it may be a warning sign. If a company says it won’t return your items without an additional payment, contact BBB or law enforcement for help.

• Know your rights. Interstate movers are required by law to provide you information explaining the moving process, your rights and your responsibilities.

• Ask for proof of all licenses, bonding and insurance.

• Get all agreements in writing. Read everything carefully and never sign blank forms. Get copies of everything you sign, including the bill of lading which is the receipt for your goods and contract for their transportation. Never accept a verbal estimate of pick-up and delivery dates or the promise “as-soon-as-possible”.

• Take your valuables (cash, coins, jewelry, etc.) with you. If you decide to ship them, use a separate shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.

• Ask questions. If the moving company can’t or won’t answer you, you may want to consider another mover.

Moving can be tough, but BBB can help. You can also visit the Safety Administration’s website at protectyourmove.gov for more information.

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