Money Fix: Do research before hiring movers

If you're planning a move, check out the

If you're planning a move, check out the company you're hiring with the Better Business Bureau, and get a few estimates of cost, before you load up your belongings for the big (or small) trip. Photo Credit: iStock

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Summertime isn't just about fun in the sun; it's moving time. There's no avoiding the mechanics of moving, but take steps to save money and protect yourself from scams.

Do your research. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. Only deal with licensed companies. All interstate movers must, at a minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; verify this at protectyourmove.gov.

Don't fall for over-the-phone estimates. Serious moving companies will come to your home and inspect your belongings. "If a company offers you an estimate over the phone, it's a major red flag. An in-home estimate is the only way to accurately determine costs," says Ada Vassilovski, head of product strategy and marketing for MyMove.com in Boston.

Get several estimates. "Any company quoting a price well above or below the mean is likely not the correct choice," says Matthew Herenstein, consumer advocate at social networking site SocialPower.com.

Focus on details. Understand how movers charge -- hourly, or by weight. Local moves at most require a nominal deposit, says Kevin Hagan, marketing director for Transit Systems in Wayne, Penn. "If your mover tries to hold your items until you pay your entire bill, know that this is illegal. By law they must release your items upon arrival at your new home," he says.

Also be clear about "extras like debris removal, crating, and waiting time," says Matt Schwartzberg, president of A-1 First Class Moving in New York City.

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