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Moving - Red Flags for Rogue Movers

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Moving tends to be an involved process that can often overwhelm people, requiring them to hire the services of professional movers. Not all moving companies are reputable, though. Being able to spot the signs of scam artists, who are referred to in the moving industry as "rogue movers" is an essential skill.

When setting out to investigate potential movers, there are a number of excellent free resources on the moving industry you can use. The most popular are the websites of the Better Business Bureau (BBB),, and which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT's website is dedicated to interstate movers, while the other websites have entries on both local and interstate movers. Checking all three websites will give people a complete picture of potential moving companies. Virtually any moving company will have complaints lodged against it. People must look for patterns of complaints and how they were resolved.

The DOT's site offers a list of "red flags" or warning signs on interstate movers, many of which can be applied to local movers as well:

  • The mover doesn't inspect your household possessions on-site and gives an estimate over the phone or Internet. These estimates are often extremely low and "non-binding," meaning the company can tack on extra fees based on moving day variables. "Binding Not-To-Exceed" estimates in contrast are written and cannot be raised by the mover.
  • The company's website doesn't list a street address and has no information about licensing or insurance.
  • The mover's telephone is answered with a nonspecific "Movers" or "Moving company" greeting instead of the company's name.
  • The mover claims the goods it moves are insured, but provides no written proof of insurance.
  • Company facilities are in bad condition or don't exist.
  • The moving company requires cash and/or a large deposit up front.
  • The mover doesn't supply you a booklet titled "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" as required by Federal regulations in the planning phase of interstate moves.
  • On moving day, a rental moving truck arrives instead of a company-owned and branded truck.

When contacting a potential mover, you should also ask for at least 3 references of past customers from within the last 30 days up to a year. Query each of the references to determine the quality of service they received and their satisfaction with the mover. If the moving company delays in providing references or if the references don't check out, remove the company from consideration.

Taking the time to identify rogue movers in the moving industry will ensure your move's success and save you much money and needless stress.

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