Ready to Move? Tips for a Successful Move…
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to make sure you have the information you need to “Protect Your Memories. Your Money. Your Move” from moving fraud.
The best defense against moving fraud is to be informed and aware of your options when choosing a reputable moving company. While most household moves go smoothly, there are dishonest or “rogue” movers you should be aware of.
For more information on interstate moves, visit the FMCSA website at http://www.protectyourmove.gov.
You can also use this site to link to other government, law enforcement, and moving industry information sources. This is very important if you are looking for more detailed State and local information, including how to file a complaint.
Topics Covered in the Brochure:
- Key Definitions
- Know Your Rights and Responsibilities Before Selecting a Mover
- Use Only Registered Movers
- Read and Understand All Information Provided by the Mover
- What If There Is A Problem?
- Moving Checklist
Broker — A company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, utilizing for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. A broker does not assume responsibility for the cargo and usually does not take possession of the cargo.
Tariff — A list of rates, rules, regulations, and available services. Each mover publishes its own tariffs and these must be provided to you upon request.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities Before Selecting a Mover
Before moving your household goods, movers are required to give you this brochure and a pamphlet entitled Ready To Move. They provide basic information that will help you understand the documents that a mover will ask you to sign. The pamphlet also explains your rights if your household goods are lost or damaged. Copies of this brochure and pamphlet can be downloaded from the website www.protectyourmove.gov, which has additional helpful consumer information.
Use Only Registered Movers
Make sure the mover you select has been assigned a USDOT number, is registered with FMCSA to engage in interstate transportation of household goods, and has the proper level of insurance.
You can determine if a mover is registered with FMCSA by accessing http://www.protectyourmove.gov or calling FMCSA at 202-366-9805 for licensing and 202-385-2423 for insurance.
Read and Understand All Information Provided by the Mover
The mover should provide you with the following basic documents as part of your move:
The estimate should clearly describe, in writing, all charges for services the mover will perform. Make sure the estimate is signed by the mover. Do Not Accept Oral Estimates.
Order for Service
The order for service is a list of all the services the mover will perform and shows the dates your household goods will be picked up and delivered.
Bill of Lading
The Bill of Lading is a contract between you and the mover and a receipt of your belongings. You should be given a partially completed copy of the Bill of Lading before the mover leaves the residence at origin.
The inventory is the receipt showing each item you shipped and its condition. Be sure you receive a written copy of the inventory after your household goods are loaded and that you agree with the description of your household goods’ condition.
What If There Is A Problem?
Dispute Settlement Program
Before moving your household goods, interstate movers are required to provide you with information regarding their dispute settlement program. Movers must offer a neutral dispute settlement program as a means of settling disputes that may arise concerning loss or damage of your household goods.
Loss or Damage of Goods
If your goods are damaged or missing at delivery, request a company claim form from the mover. Complete the claim form to the best of your ability. The mover will tell you where to mail the completed form. You must file a written claim with the mover within 9 months of delivery. Your claim must be in writing but does not have to be submitted on a mover’s claim form. It is suggested that you send the claims information to the mover by certified mail. If you are not satisfied with the settlement offer made by the mover, you have the option of submitting a loss and damage claim with the mover’s dispute settlement program or to seek other legal remedies.
Applicable Transportation Charges
The charges that a mover assesses for its services must be contained in a published tariff, which must be made available to you upon request. If you feel that a mover has overcharged you, you can contact the Surface Transportation Board at 866-254-1792 to obtain further assistance.
Filing a Complaint
FMCSA does not have the authority to resolve claims against a moving company. However, you may file a complaint against a mover by visiting http://www.protectyourmove.gov or calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT (888-368-7238) Monday-Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. Your complaint may trigger a Federal enforcement investigation against the mover.
- DO NOT SIGN BLANK DOCUMENTS!
- THE BEST WAY TO AVOID PROBLEMS IS TO BE INFORMED AND PLAN AHEAD.
Before You Move
- Obtain the brochure Ready to Move? and the guide Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move from the mover.
- Ask for recommendations from neighbors, friends, and relatives regarding the mover.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau regarding the mover.
- Find out what the mover’s responsibilities are for damages that may occur to your belongings
- Ask if the mover has a dispute settlement program.
- Obtain estimates from at least three movers, and compare cost and all other services to be provided by the mover.
- Check to determine whether the interstate mover is registered with FMCSA, and has a USDOT number.
- Find out how and when pickup and delivery of your household goods will occur.
- Ask the mover how they can be contacted before the move, during the move, and after the move.
- Adequately insure your belongings.
- Be present to answer questions and give directions to the movers. Stay until they finish.
- Accompany the movers as they inventory your household goods and resolve any questions regarding the condition of materials being moved.
- Carefully read the information on the estimate, order for service, bill of lading, inventory, and all other completed documents before you sign them.
- Keep the bill of lading until your goods are delivered, the charges are paid, and any claims are settled.
- Before the moving van leaves, take one final look throughout the house to make certain nothing has been left behind.
- Give the driver directions to your new house.
- Inform the driver and the moving company where you can be reached during the move.
- Be present to answer any questions and give directions.
- Pay the driver, according to the term of your agreement, before your goods are unloaded.
- Supervise unloading and unpacking of your goods.
- Note on the inventory list all boxes or other items that are damaged before you sign any documents.
Q. Where can I get a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move and other helpful consumer information?
Q. Where can I find out whether a mover is registered with FMCSA?
Q. Where can I obtain information about a mover, broker or freight forwarder’s insurance and process agent?
A. Visit http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov or call (202) 385-2423.
Q. How do I get assistance to determine if a mover has assessed the correct transportation charges?
A. Visit http://www.stb.dot.gov or call the Surface Transportation Board at 1-866-254-1792.
Q. Where may I file a complaint against a mover?
A. Visit www.protectyourmove.gov or call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368- 7238) Monday – Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM EST.
Q. In addition to FMCSA, are there other authorities I should contact to report a mover?
A. Yes. State attorneys general and consumer affairs agencies are responsible for pursuing suspected moving fraud.
Q. How can I learn more about movers and transportation of household goods?
FMCSA develops, maintains, and enforces federal regulations that establish safe operating requirements for commercial vehicle drivers, carriers, vehicles, and vehicle equipment. FMCSA regulates interstate household goods movers and requires them to register with the agency. Its regulations assist consumers on interstate moves and define the rights and responsibilities of consumers and household goods carriers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
1-800-832-5660 • TTY: 1-800-877-8339
FMCSA-ESA-03-005 Revised April 2006