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After 10 News report, warnings about unlicensed movers

3:52 PM, May 7, 2012   |    comments
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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (Better Business Bureau) - May is National Moving Month and the start of the busiest time of year for changing residencies, which means unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are waiting to take advantage of consumers who aren't careful.

WATCH: 10 News Investigators help bust unlicensed movers
UPDATE: UHaul fined for breaking Florida laws

In 2011, the BBB nationally received more than 1.3 million moving-related inquiries and more than 9,000 complaints against movers. Complaints include lost or stolen belongings, damaged items, huge price increases over quoted estimates, late deliveries, and goods being "held hostage" for additional payment.

BBB Tips for Picking the Right Mover:

"Finding a mover you can trust can be easy, if you take the time to do so," said Karen Nalven, president of BBB serving West Florida. "Consumers need to make sure to always check with BBB and AMSA before doing business. BBB has more than 17,000 BBB Business Reviews nationally on moving-related services."

"A con artist with just a truck and a website can claim to be a legitimate mover with unfortunate results for consumers who don't check out a company in advance," said AMSA President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr. "When it comes to such an important decision, you can save yourself a lot of problems by finding a mover who puts customer service and integrity first. For interstate moves, that means an AMSA-certified ProMover."

BBB and the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) offer the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:

Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on FMCSA's website: www.protectyourmove.gov

Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price quotes online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end.

Know your rights. Research your rights as a consumer with either FMCSA for interstate moves or the state in which you reside for moves within that state. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.

Consider accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Purchasing full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It's important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit. For your protection, a new interstate regulation effective May 15 requires the cost of full value protection to be included in the estimate you receive.

For more consumer news you can trust and to check out a mover near you, visit www.bbb.org and AMSA's www.moving.org.

BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there a is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than four million local and national businesses and charities.

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