SOURCE: Unigroup/Mayflower

June 20, 2011 04:00 ET

Nine Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed by Rogue Movers From Mayflower Transit

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Jun 20, 2011) - (Family Features) Each year, about 15 million American households move, and in the current challenging economy, many may be tempted to choose a mover based on the price alone.

Unfortunately, disreputable movers make a business out of baiting customers with very low estimates and then adding on unreasonable charges or even holding the customer's household goods hostage for exorbitant ransom. Taking the time to choose a mover wisely is well worth it.

"Anyone with a website can claim to be a mover," said Carl Walter, vice president of Mayflower, one of the oldest moving companies in the country. "It's important to do some homework to avoid falling victim to a scam that could add thousands of dollars to the price of a move. There are a number of red flags that make disreputable movers stand out, but to recognize them you have to know what to look for ahead of time. The best way to know if a prospective mover is doing something wrong is to know the right way from the start."

By planning ahead and doing some simple research, people can reduce their risk of falling victim to disreputable movers. Mayflower offers the following tips for people who are planning a move:

  • Go with a name you know -- Find three moving companies that have offices in your area and have been in business for at least 10 years.

  • Get a referral -- Word of mouth is the strong indicator of reliability -- ask friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.

  • Ask for an in-home estimate -- Transportation charges are based not only on the distance of the move, but also on the weight of the items being moved. To ensure that your estimate is accurate, have the moving company come and look at the items you need to move.

  • Don't be hooked by the lowest price -- Disreputable movers often lure customers with lowball prices and then hit them with unreasonable charges or, in extreme cases, even hold their belongings for ransom. Get three estimates -- if one is much lower than the others, that is a red flag.

  • Be sure the company is who it says -- Some disreputable movers try to lure customers in by using names that are very similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company's website to make sure the local agent is affiliated with the brand name it is claiming.

  • Don't pay up front -- Typically you should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved. Most companies request payment at the time of delivery.

  • Do your research -- If you are moving interstate, go to protectyourmove.gov to find out if a mover is licensed for interstate moves by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

  • Get it in writing -- Ask for pickup and delivery dates in writing.

  • Know your rights -- Request a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a brochure created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that outlines consumers' rights. Federal law requires movers to give this to customers prior to an interstate move.

"When you move, you allow people you don't know to drive away with everything you own," Walter said. "It's important to make the right choice."

For more moving tips and to download the "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" brochure, visit www.Mayflower.com.

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