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How to Do a Background Check on a Moving Company

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When hiring a mover, complete a background check of any moving company you consider. Since they will be in your home and are responsible for transporting your personal possessions, you will want to feel safe. It's a good idea to be aware of their track records and to find proof of good service.

performing background checks on moving companies

When you're searching for a mover, you may be worried about unskilled staff, unprofessional service and unethical business practices. Making sure that a moving company is qualified, experienced and trustworthy is an important part of planning your move to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you're concerned about hiring an unreliable and incompetent company for your move, the following tips will help you choose a mover that meets your needs.

1. Verify the moving company's licensing credentials

Professional movers are required by law to be registered and licensed to perform moves -- especially if they ship goods over state lines.

Individual state requirements vary, but if you are hiring movers for an interstate relocation, it should be regulated by the federal government. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association requires that these movers register for a USDOT number which ensures they are inspected and regulated. Before hiring any long distance mover, verify the USDOT number on the FMCSA website.

By obtaining a company's USDOT number, you can find out a lot of vital information about them, and this information is the key to doing a routine background check. Any reliable and reputable moving company will be happy to provide you with their USDOT number.

2. Search for the mover through the Better Business Bureau

Any company accepted by the BBB will most likely be a reputable company to use when moving. In order to be accepted into the BBB, the company must meet all of the following eight criteria:
  • Build trust
  • Advertise honestly
  • Tell the truth
  • Be transparent
  • Honor promises
  • Be responsive
  • Safeguard privacy
  • Embody integrity

Did you know...?
If the BBB determines that a company meets each criterion, then that company will be able to put the BBB seal of approval on their website. However, BBB accreditation does mean that the business's service has been evaluated or endorsed by the BBB. Rather, the BBB makes the determination based on the company's business practices.

Verify the company's BBB accreditation or memberships with any moving organizations with your own research. Their profile on the BBB website will display a rating as well as any outstanding complaints and customer reviews.

3. Check to see if the company is blacklisted

You certainly don't want to be hiring a moving company that has been blacklisted, so it's a good idea to look at that kind of information before hiring them.

Blacklists identify untrustworthy individuals or moving companies that should be avoided at all costs. Search the moving company's name online to find out whether a company is blacklisted. There are websites dedicated to blacklisted movers, such as MovingScam and BlackListedMovers.

4. Search for any outstanding complaints against the movers

Just as you wouldn’t want to hire a moving company that has been blacklisted, you also want to stay away from movers that have a large amount of complaints filed against them.

  • has an extensive collection of moving reviews and is a great source for researching this information
  • There are also many secondary sources where reviews of various moving companies can be found such as Yelp and Yahoo Local
  • Review sites will contain hundreds of customer testimonials -- either attesting to a company's stellar or subpar service

TIP: Reading customer reviews can be a great way to gauge a company's performance. It is important to look over these reviews and see the varying experiences that people have had with a particular moving company. Unfortunately, many dishonest companies do actually pay people to write favorable reviews, so be sure to be on the lookout for telltale signs that a review is illegitimate.

5. Ask the moving company for references

Another way to learn about previous customer experiences is by asking for references. You should treat the situation as professionally as possible and politely ask for at least three references from former customers. Ask for both work and cell phone numbers for each reference as well as the city and state they reside in. You can also ask for letters of recommendation, but these are very easy to forge.

TIP: When a moving company gives you references, make sure that they don't appear to be immediate connections to the movers (like references that have the same last name or share a phone number).

Before you can trust a reference from a moving company, you should ensure that the reference is genuine. Here are some steps for checking to see if a reference is authentic or not:

  • If a reference calls you, be suspicious. Tell him or her that you are unavailable at the moment and schedule another time to call them back. 

  • Have your potential mover supply you with a full name, company phone number and e-mail address for all references. Be sure to get three references per vendor.

  • Personally call all the references and talk to them. Though this takes some time, you'll avoid wasting time and money on the wrong moving company.

  • Perform an online search to ensure that the reference is real. For individuals, try checking the White Pages and other phone directories specific to the region you're calling. The references shouldn't be located near the mover's office(s).

  • Call the reference's place of work, if possible. You can confirm his or her employment status, locate any ties to the mover and ensure that they are genuine.

  • Leave a voicemail and send an e-mail. Follow up your calls with a thank-you e-mail.

6. Research the moving company's statistics

Every good moving company should have statistics about the number of moves they have performed, their years in service and other relevant numbers. These numbers, when verified against other independent sources, create a timeline that paints a vivid image of the mover and can either bolster or destroy their credibility.

Treat the statistics carefully and look for any logical flaws. For instance, if the mover insists they have performed 200 moves in the past month but only has two trucks, there is a problem.

7. Ask the moving company about their experience

When receiving your in-home estimate from a moving company, it's important to ask questions about the company's experience performing various moving services. If you have any special requests, such as packing an antique china cabinet or moving a piano, it's crucial to inquire about the company's familiarity with these tasks.

Questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been in the moving industry?
  • What kind of training do your movers undergo?
  • Do you have any screening process for hiring?
  • What are your methods for packing and wrapping furniture? Antiques? Artwork?
  • What kind of packing materials/moving tools do your workers use?
  • Do you have experience moving special items (piano, pool table, treadmill, safe, shed)?

8. Compare quotes from at least three moving companies

The more on-site estimates you receive from different moving companies, the more knowledgeable you are about the going rates for comparable services, the easier it is to spot an unqualified mover or scam company. You should always receive at least three in-home estimates from different movers before choosing one for hire. You can get started comparing free quotes today, right here at! Simply fill out our fast and easy quote form with just a few details about your move, and you will be contacted by up to seven companies in your area.

Since your movers will be handling everything you own, it is worth the extra time to check up on your moving company. By choosing movers with good track records, solid references and a history of good service, you can feel confident in their abilities as they transport your belongings.

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on November 29, 2018

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