Pay attention to red flags!
Some moving firms use brokers or subcontractors to drum up business. Federal law requires brokers to identify themselves, but bad brokers won't volunteer this information, says Bisney. "Confirm. Ask, 'Are you a mover or do you broker your moves?' They're required to tell you."
Other red flags?
No bricks and mortar: It's a snap for shady operators to throw up a snazzy website to lure clients. Before hiring anyone, check their address. Is it a secure business or an abandoned lot?
Phone quotes and super-cheap estimates: Price sounds too good to be true? If you get a substantially cheaper quote than others, research why. "You don't want to be caught in a bait-and-switch situation when your property is in transit," says the BBB's Davis.
Demands for cash: Reputable movers won't demand upfront payments. In fact, under the 110 percent rule for non-binding estimates, you can't be required to pay interstate movers more than the original estimate plus 10 percent at the time of delivery.
Know your rights: Movers are required to give you a booklet, "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," at the time of your estimate. If you don't get it, "It means they don't want you to have something you should have," says Carl Walter, spokesman at MoveRescue, a program that assists moving fraud victims.