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Two Common Moving-Company Scams and How to Avoid Them

  • The estimate is much lower than any other estimate you receive. It's always good to get at least three companies' estimates.

  • The movers refuse to put everything, or anything, in writing.

    Researching before you commit will help you avoid being scammed, Bernas said.

    You can also check a company out on the Better Business Bureau's Web site, http://www.bbbonline.org. "We let consumers know the number of complaints, the types of complaints and the patterns of complaints against a company. We'll tell you whether or not the company resolved the complaints," Bernas said.

    Another good resource is the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, where you can check out your mover at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

    "The FMCSA has a world of information on their Web site to help consumers," Borgman said, adding that consumers who suspect they have a problem, or who have had their belongings hijacked, should call the agency's toll-free hotline, 888-368-7238, to file a complaint. The hotline is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Other helpful Web sites include http://www.protectyourmove.gov; the American Moving and Storage Association's Web site, http://www.moving.org; and http://www.movingscam.com, a user-generated site that maintains a "blacklist" of alleged scam moving companies.

    If you thoroughly check out your mover before hiring him, you're much less likely to be scammed.

    Q: We have lived in our house for 48 years. Last year, we prepaid our oil bill, up to $4,300, on a credit card, which now has a balance of $8,000.

    We pay $300 per month on our credit card debt. Our mortgage payment is $647 per month. We also have a car payment of $269 per month, which will be paid off in May 2009. Our income is about $38,000 a year. My husband does not have a very good credit rating, but mine is excellent.

    We are both worried about how to keep our home and continue to pay these heating costs. I hope we do not have to move out, as we have an older son living with us.

    A: I'm afraid there are no easy answers for you. You already know you're living beyond your means. The fact that you have lived in your house for 48 years does not mean that you'll be able to stay there now, whether or not your older son is living with you.


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