Summertime has traditionally been the busiest moving season.  Longer daylight times and summer breaks for children make it a prime time for people to move. It is also a prime time for scam artists to prey on unsuspecting consumers.

The California Moving & Storage Association (CMSA) wants to make sure that consumers know how to avoid being a victim of a moving scam.  Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Don’t book your move on-line or over the phone without verifying that the mover has a location in your area.  Drive by the location.  Go in and meet the company’s personnel.  Use your instincts to discern if the company’s personnel appear to be professional and trustworthy.  Let your common sense guide you…  but don’t stop there!
  2. Verify the company’s license.  All movers are required by law to demonstrate their legitimacy on all their documentation.
  3. Verify the license number with the California Moving & Storage Association (CMSA) or the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
  4. Obtain written estimates for moves of three or more rooms.  Legitimate movers are price competitve.  Make sure the estimates are based on the same factors (i.e. move and pack; move only, etc.)  If a company provides an unusually low bid … beware!  The company could be illegal, or they may have made an error while estimating the move.  If the latter is the case, the price will likely escalate on moving day.
  5. Illegal movers may charge by the cubic foot.  Legal movers charge by the hour (local moves), and by weight/mileage (distance moves).
  6. Bandits “rip off” innocent consumers by charging exorbitant fees for extensive and unnecessary packing on items that should be pad wrapped.  Furnishings should be wrapped with shrink wrap or protected with special moving blankets.
  7. Bandits will intimidate consumers to tip the crew.  Tipping is not customary but it is accepted when the customer has received exceptional service.

*The CMSA is a nonprofit trade association representing over 385 licensed and insured movers operating in California.