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The University of Illinois Tri-County Extension office
Blog: Avoiding scams when moving household goods
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The University of Illinois Tri-County Extension office covering Livingston, Woodford and McLean counties.
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By Illinois Movers' and Warehousemen's Association
July 4, 2013 2 p.m.

If you're looking for a moving company on the Internet, do your homework first or your furniture may not be the only thing taken for a ride. Criminals posing as professional movers are commonplace, especially during the summer moving season. Craig's List and other free posting sites are full of uninsured crooks who offer prices too good to be true. To provide consumers with a safe move, Illinois Movers' and Warehousemen's Association is providing these tips to help you avoid Internet moving scams:
1). Don't be fooled by slick websites. Anyone with a few bucks can build a professional looking website, but that alone does not ensure a professional move. A posting on Craig's List or customer reviews on Yelp provide no guarantee that the advertiser is licensed or insured…or that you'll even be able to find him later if you have a loss or damage claim.
2). Check on the firm's operating authority. In Illinois, anyone offering moving service for hire must be licensed by the Illinois Commerce Commission and show their ILCC number in every kind of advertisement, including their website. All licensed Illinois movers are listed at www.icc.illinois.gov Likewise, every interstate (state-to-state) moving company is licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and has a Motor Carrier number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This number must be displayed in all advertising, including the company's website. You should verify the validity of the interstate mover's license number at the FMCSA's consumer info website www.protectyourmove.gov
3). Look for the "bricks and mortar." Professional movers will proudly post their full contact information, including a street address and phone number. The absence of any evidence of a real company should raise concerns. If the site does post a street address, do a Google Maps search to see if that address really exists. The Illinois Movers' Association is happy to help you check out any mover you are considering.
4). Get at least three written in-home estimates. The Internet is full of "moving cost estimators," but the only estimates that count are offered by a professional mover who visits your home. If someone offers to lock in an estimate over the phone or refuses to come visit your home to provide a written estimate, chances are high you may be getting scammed.
5). Avoid companies that require large deposits or down payments. Professional movers generally do not require a deposit. In fact, interstate movers are not allowed to require you to pay before you move. Remember, once a con artist has all your worldly possessions locked in a truck and you've handed over payment for the move, you've lost any bargaining power.
6). Avoid Internet brokers. Many people who enter their contact information on websites that promise to find qualified movers find themselves inundated with aggressive scam artists. It's best to avoid these sites. If you do use them, create a new e -mail address to be used only for the move. Avoid giving your real phone number if possible.
7). For moves in Illinois, use a member of the Illinois Movers' and Warehousemen's Association. You will find a list of our professional movers at www.imawa.com. For interstate moves, look for a certified Pro Mover who is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association at www.moving.org
8). Check references. It's wise to use companies that display the Illinois Movers Association, or AMSA's ProMover or Better Business Bureau logo. But many swindlers will use those logos without authorization. Do your homework to verify that the companies using these insignia are doing so legitimately.

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