Working on a Department of Transportation consumer campaign brought a pertinent issue to light for my personal life… moving fraud.
By Shenneth Dove-Morse, Account Executive, PCI.
When I started at PCI in January, I dove into client work for the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) “Protect Your Move” campaign. The campaign aim is to educate consumers on how to choose reputable movers and avoid moving fraud. A key component of the campaign is a video we produced, featuring consumers affected by interstate moving fraud.
Because I was then in the process of moving from Philadelphia to DC, my ears perked up during our video shoots with the consumers. As they shared their experiences, I learned that unscrupulous movers use tactics such as extorting customers by holding their belongings hostage or changing estimates without notifying customers.
After the video shoots, I dug into FMCSA’s free tools and resources at ProtectYourMove.gov. So, what steps did I take to ensure the rest of my move was stress-free?
1. Be Aware of Red Flags. I read the twelve Red Flags of Moving Fraud on ProtectYourMove.gov.
2. Ask for Recommendations. I asked family and friends for recommendations. I didn’t end up finding a moving company through my network, but I did uncover useful information regarding expected costs.
3. Obtain Multiple Estimates. I obtained estimates from three moving companies so I could compare costs and services. Taking time for comparison shopping allowed me to find a mover I was comfortable with that also fit my budget.
4. Research Your Movers. I started off my moving company research with cursory Google searches and by pursuing the Better Business Bureau website and Yelp reviews. I then used FMCSA’s database to determine whether my potential moving company was registered with FMCSA, had a USDOT number, had adequate insurance, and had a good safety rating.
5. Ask for Mover Contact Info. The moving company I selected is a small business. I dealt exclusively with the company owner, who offered his direct number. Prior to moving day he also provided the movers’ cell phone numbers. Even if he hadn’t offered that info, I knew to ask for it from reading the moving checklist on ProtectYourMove.gov.
6. Stay On Top of the Details. I communicated with my moving company to obtain clear details for my move, such as my moving company’s responsibilities for any damage to my belongings, recommended permits, and the expected timeframe for my move.
In the future, I will share the information I learned from working on the “Protect Your Move” campaign with family and friends. And I will always keep my eyes and ears open during client work. You never know when you’ll learn something that applies to your personal life.