Moving scams and how to avoid them

Moving Scams and How To Avoid Them

If you’ve been doing any research before hiring a professional moving company, you already know how important it is to avoid being scammed. The internet has no shortage of articles and forums detailing the schemes of moving “brokers” and the terrible experiences of their customers. So in this post, rather than simply list the ways that you could be swindled by a bad mover, we’d like to share a few ways to avoid these situations and how you can verify that the moving company you’ve chosen is trustworthy.

Getting Quotes

The first tool many people use these days to find a mover is an internet search, but this can be risky. Do your best to avoid Websites that offer “find a mover”services to help you get quotes from moving companies– this is where most “moving brokers” reel in unknowing consumers. (Learn the secrets of how moving company scams operate on

Instead, ask your friends, family, and co-workers if they know of a reputable, professional moving company that they’ve had a good experience with in the past. A personal recommendation from someone you trust is better than any online review.

License and Tariff Numbers

Every reputable mover will have a license number, insurance, a department of transportation (DOT) number, and work in accordance with a tariff. (Most of our numbers can be found here.) In Oregon, you can find out answers to many questions on the transportation of household goods by visiting the state’s DOT page . After obtaining license information, you can search to verify they are licensed Household Goods (HHG) movers on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’ SAFER system here. If they are authorized, the “Cargo Carried” section should indicate Household Goods.

A tariff is something every moving company will use for rating your move. They will have it on file, as it contains federal rules, rates, and classifications related to the service they provide. If you ask your mover for their tariff number they may be surprised, but if they can’t give you one this would be cause for concern.

A Place of Business

If you have a chance, such as in the case of a local move, look up your mover’s physical address and stop by their office. This is a great way to get a feel for their business. You might find the office to be clean and inviting or dirty and dilapidated– or you may find no office at all. If you discover that your mover has no physical place of business, this is a sure sign to be sceptical. (Feel free to stop and see us at 4426 SE 122nd Ave. in Portland any time.)

The In-Home Estimate

Many articles will warn you about companies that offer a moving estimate without visiting your home in person to evaluate the move. This is true; getting a long distance quote over the Internet or by phone can be risky if you’re dealing with bad movers.

However, there are circumstances where even the most honest, reputable moving company will provide an estimate without doing an in-home inspection.

For example, we perform lots of inspections for long distance moves, but with local moves, an inspection is only necessary if there are extremely large items we have not dealt with or if the home itself is excessive in size. As our local charges MUST be based on actual time and tariff rate, we gather as many details as possible from the customer over the phone or by email. If you are too far or even several states away, we can often find an affiliate in your area. We arrange an in home inspection for you and can then schedule your move on a binding or not-to-exceed contact– whichever is more appropriate for your circumstance.

If a mover doesn’t offer more than one contract option with an in home inspection , or requires you to sign a binding estimate over the Internet without one, you’d be wise to look elsewhere.

And finally, if you are questioning the ethics of a potential interstate moving company, you can read national complaint histories on The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Website or visit the forum on Each state may have their own statistics page.

Master Movers Moving & Storage and Master Transit have worked hard to build reputations as honest local and long distance moving companies. Learn more about our business and trustworthy partners today.