May kicks off National Moving Month, the busiest time of the year for Americans to make residential moves. Unfortunately, not all moves go as planned, and even in the best of circumstances moving can be a stressful process.

In 2018, the Better Business Bureau received nearly 1.9 million inquiries and more than 7,000 complaints on moving companies. The Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas urges consumers to vet a moving company before signing any contract.

The most common types of complaints against moving companies are service and delivery issues. Many consumers tell the BBB their property was damaged by the moving company or their items were being held “hostage” with extra unforeseen fees/charges.

Checking a mover's credentials is not only critical, it is also very simple. Taking precautions on the front end can save you from a nightmare down the road.

The BBB offers the following tips on preparing for a move:

Do your research. Before hiring a moving company, check its BBB Business Profile at bbb.org. The American Moving and Storage Association also identifies movers that have pledged to uphold high standards of trust and to resolve complaints quickly.

Verify the mover’s licensing. In Texas, movers are required to be licensed with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for operating within the state (intrastate) and U.S. Department of Transportation for operating outside of Texas (interstate).

Get at least three estimates. Written, in-home estimates help you make an informed decision. Show the mover everything that needs to be moved (don’t forget sheds and garages). Be wary of unusually high or low estimates.

Get all agreements in writing. Read everything carefully and make sure you have it all in writing. Get copies of everything your sign, especially the most important document; the bill of lading, which is the receipt for your goods; and the contract for their transportation. Ask for written documentation of any special terms and conditions, complete costs, payment timelines and warranty information. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. Never sign any blank forms.

Protect your possessions. Make sure that your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Note that insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as flat-panel televisions may need additional replacement cost coverage in case they are damaged in transit. Find out what your household insurance will and won’t cover during a move.

Take your valuables with you. Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.

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