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Moving Red Flags: 4 Signs You’re Working With Bad Movers (And What to Do About Them)

MartinPrescott/ Getty Images
MartinPrescott/ Getty Images

Moving is stressful enough on its own. No one needs the added headache that comes along with hiring bad movers: those who are out to rip you off or steal your belongings. However, there are so many moving companies out there that it can be hard to separate the good from the bad. You’re not alone if you’re having trouble finding the right fit.

If you’re looking to make sure that you avoid bad movers, you’re in the right place. We’ve outlined four of the biggest red flags working with movers. As you begin your search, keep your eyes peeled for these signs.

Their information is hard to find

The first step to ensuring that you stay away from less-than-reputable movers is to do research before booking. When it comes to what to look for with movers, it’s crucial to find out whether or not the companies you’re thinking of using are registered. Proper registration guarantees that you’ll have protection for your belongings if something goes awry during the move.

The biggest warning sign of bad movers is their inability to provide you with an FMC number, which is proof that the company is properly registered. If asked, all registered movers must provide you with their headquarters’ address, FMC number, contact information and types of services they provide.

However, for best results, you should research beyond their registration status. Good moving companies usually also have a DMV number and a website. For added protection, read a few customer reviews about the company. These can be found on Google Plus or Yelp, and even on Facebook or Twitter. Real customer experiences are telling about the company as a whole.

They can’t answer your questions

After you’ve done your research, it’s important to interview potential companies. During the interview, experienced and professional movers will be able to show that they have proper training, education and the knowledge to help you understand the moving process. They should be able to answer all of your questions about the move, packaging, insurance and beyond, whether you’re moving cross-country or locally.

On the other hand, most scammers and bad movers won’t have that knowledge base and therefore won’t be able to provide thorough answers. With that in mind, ask plenty of questions. Ask about their credentials and their policies, especially the process for any claims on lost or damaged items. Listen to their responses carefully; if you’re not satisfied with what you hear, move on.

Your estimate seems ‘off’

After you talk to a few companies, the next step is to go over their estimates. The golden rule of finding the right moving company is to ask for written estimates from no less than three different companies. This gives you the opportunity to make an informed choice, balancing the various services and prices that each has to offer.

Generally, a scam company will either provide unusually low or unusually high estimates compared to legitimate companies. In other words, most registered and trusted moving companies should offer you similar estimates for the same job. If one sticks out from the crowd or seems too good to be true, it may be wise to stay away.

Additionally, be wary of any requests for high down payments. In some cases, you may be asked to pay a moving company deposit for securing your date. However, in most cases, this amount shouldn’t exceed 20% of the total moving cost. If a company asks that you pay the deposit in cash or demands a much larger deposit beforehand, this might be a sign that you’re not dealing with reputable individuals.

You get a bad feeling 

Most of us have great intuition — a sense when something just isn’t right. Follow your instincts when evaluating movers, even if it’s difficult at first to pinpoint the reason for what you’re feeling. Remember, it’s important to trust your gut and not brush your feelings aside. Doing so will allow you to remain in control of the situation, and it may make all the difference in your belongings arriving safe and sound.

Many times, spotting bad movers lies in inconsistent details. For instance, you may get an uneasy feeling when the movers aren’t wearing matching uniforms or branded shirts. Alternatively, they may be using an unmarked truck. A lack of branding is a huge red flag because, in most cases, it’s an indication that the company you’re using is not a registered or legal mover.

If at any time these small details make you feel uncomfortable, act on it. Even though it may be a hassle, it’s much wiser to reschedule your move for a later date with a professional moving company than to risk your belongings with bad movers.

Have you moved recently? What was your experience like? Curious about other red flags? Check out our article on choosing the right neighborhood and what signs you should steer clear of.

The bottom line

Here’s what to look for with movers: A good company should be able to handle all of your questions regarding your move, have credentials as a registered mover, and have solid policies.

When considering a mover, ask yourself these questions: Does the company you’re considering have accessibility to their services and information through a website? Does this company have acceptable reviews? Are they FMCSA certified and have an FMC number? If you have answered no to any of these questions, then these are all red flags working with movers that you’ll want to avoid. If they answer your questions vaguely, have shotty or poor reviews, or their estimates are off, you may be working with a bad mover. Trust your intuition and protect your move, even if you have to postpone.


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