If you or a loved one is planning a move, near or far, you may be thinking about hiring a professional moving company. On paper, a moving company will ensure everything you own gets safely from point A to point B — but finding the ideal moving company can be a challenge. Are they reputable? Reliable? These are important questions to ask. The AARP reports that since 2014, there has been a 25% increase in the number of complaints lodged against interstate moving companies. In 2016, over 3,600 complaints were lodged.

The problem is that the moving industry has become a hotbed for contractors who don’t always have their customers’ best interests in mind. They want to make a quick buck and move on to the next job. Because there is often very little oversight, their work is often subpar, resulting in damaged or lost belongings.

How can you protect yourself from sloppy movers? Keep the following “red flags” in mind the next time you look to hire a moving company.

PRICING

Disreputable movers often lure customers with low prices. You may want to save a few hundred dollars on your move, but once the “bargain” mover has your belongings, they might keep them until you pay them more. There have been numerous instances of this happening, and the AARP recommends staying away from smaller, unlicensed moving businesses (and always ask for proof of insurance).

LOCATION

When researching a moving company, look for the physical address, whether it’s in the Yellow Pages or online. If you cannot track down their address, walk away. This is a sure sign that something isn’t right. If you call a company and ask for their address and they won’t give it to you, or they don’t know it, there is a good chance they are running a scam.

PAYMENT

Generally, reputable moving companies won’t ask to be paid in cash before the move — or for an unusually large deposit upfront. If a company asks for either of these things, this gives them an opportunity to take your money and run. They may even take your belongings with them to sell. Go with a company that offers reasonable payment options.

For further resources on moving, visit moving.org or FMSCA.dot.gov/protectyour-move. These websites can help you track down a reputable mover that is right for your needs.

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