How to avoid getting conned by phony movers

Make sure you\'re not putting yourself at risk when hiring a mover. (Courtesy American Moving and Storage Association)

WASHINGTON — The busiest time of year for moving — May through August — is under way. The good news is, there are plenty of professional movers who will do a great job with your belongings. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of con artists with a truck and a website.

“When you are choosing a mover, you can put yourself in a very risky situation,” says Linda Bauer Darr, president and CEO of the Alexandria-based American Moving and Storage Association.

“A rogue mover is someone who mishandles your stuff, misplaces your stuff, loses your stuff — and you have no recourse for dealing with them,” Bauer Darr warns.

Bauer Darr says a little consumer research can go a long way. The association recommends that you thoroughly research the company you intend to use.

“You need to be careful when you choose a mover, because you’re basically taking everything you own and putting it in the back of a truck with a company that you don’t necessarily know, if you haven’t done your homework,” she says.

All interstate movers must be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Bauer Darr says choosing an AMSA-certified mover can take a lot of the guesswork out of your choice.

She recommends that consumers get three written in-home estimates and be suspicious of very low offers.

And look out for red flags. Any mover who asks to be paid only in cash or asks for a big down payment, could spell trouble. Chances are, it’s someone looking to take away your leverage.

Hiring a mover can be expensive — “Peak moving season means you’re going to be paying peak prices,” Bauer Darr says — but there are ways to save a few bucks.

Timing your move can save you money.

“You’re going to get a better deal if you move mid-week, and you’re going to get a better deal if you move mid-month.”

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