5 Tips for Spotting an Unlicensed Mover

By Adam P. Newton, June 6, 2013, Moving

5 Tips for Spotting an Unlicensed MoverSummer is the busiest time of the year for people leaving one residence for another; and moving is one of the most stressful events you can experience. Many people look into hiring a moving company to take care of the hardest parts of the transition. However, hiring those movers is definitely a task that should be carried out carefully

Why? Because there are many dishonest movers out there who are ready to make bank off of you, if you aren’t careful. These folks are often referred to as “unlicensed movers” – i.e., workers who don’t have the federal and/or state licensing necessary to credibly carry out a move, but hope to make do with just a truck and the manpower. Such movers are ready to pounce on the opportunity to profit from consumers who don’t put the proper legwork into selecting a licensed moving company. Unlicensed movers are notorious for breaking or damaging items during the move, overcharging for their work based on original estimates, delivering your stuff late, and even holding certain valuables “hostage” until consumers pay an additional amount.

5 Tips for Spotting an Unlicensed Mover

In 2011 alone, the Better Business Bureau received roughly 1.3 million moving inquiries and about 9,000 complaints about unlicensed movers. However, since such an untrustworthy company might not be overtly deceiving, there are various things to you should recognize so that you ensure you’re dealing with a credible company and not one that’s going to cause you issues on moving day. Here’s a look at five tips on how to avoid unlicensed movers:


As you plan your move, you should be getting price quotes from a variety of different companies. If there’s a quote that comes in significantly lower than the others, take caution. Usually unlicensed movers undercut the prices of their legitimate competitors in order to get your attention and business, only to overcharge from their original estimate and, in extreme cases, hold some of your items “hostage” until more payments are made. In other words, while the price may come in lower upfront, unlicensed movers will get their money in the long run. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, just because it’s the best price doesn’t mean that it’s the best deal.

Look Carefully at the Website

Anybody with a truck can claim to be a “mover.” And since you can throw together a website cheaply and easily these days, it’s not hard to look “official” on the surface. In short, always do your research when it comes to moving companies. Check out each company’s website and look for Better Business Bureau accreditation or other moving-related association accreditation. With unlicensed movers becoming such a hot topic today, legitimate movers will likely have any accolades and licensing posted for all to see on their websites and in their advertising. If don’t see any sort of accreditation, proceed with caution.

Get In-House Estimates

Legit moving companies put a great emphasis on customer service and professionalism. Conversely, unlicensed ones often don’t. So arrange for an in-house estimate from moving companies you’re considering. This allows you to scope out the mover in person and what he/she is like to gauge for yourself. If the mover giving you an estimate is professional looking, courteous, and eager to find the best moving solution for you (which isn’t always the same as the lowest price), you’re likely dealing with a good, legit company. If they’re the opposite, you could very well be dealing with an unlicensed mover.


The Internet is a beautiful thing. And one of its greatest assets is the relative ease with which you can read user reviews on services and products. Moreover, since people are always quick to complain, if you see reviews that are overloaded with complaints that all sound the same, that’s a pretty good sign of a shady moving company.

Ask to See Licensing

This is the easiest, “no-brainer” way to determine whether or not you’re dealing with a licensed or unlicensed mover – ask to see their credentials. Know the proper licensing requirements in your state and ask to see them among movers who come out to give you an in-house estimate. Or better yet, visit the moving company’s facilities yourself. This allows you to check out the quality of their trucks, their workers, and their offices, as it puts you on their home turf and not vice versa.

We do understand how unlicensed movers can be an attractive option for some people, even despite some of the horror stories that have been told to the BBB in recent years. The lower price tag that they offer can allow homeowners to spend more on another, perhaps more important, aspect of their move or new home. But with all the reports, stories, and complaints out there from those who have hired such movers before, you really need to ask yourself if taking that chance is worth the stress of something happening to your stuff when you’re moving into your new home.

With Bounce Energy and our Move Concierge, you don’t have to bother yourself with the fear of an unlicensed mover. Our unique, “one-call-does-it-all” service provides assistance with a wide variety of moving-related tasks. Specifically, you can receive personalized quotes from licensed moving companies, and then learn about products and services like great rates on electricity for your new home, ID theft protection, a warranty for your HVAC system, and more. Visit our Move Concierge and Move Center today for tips on how to make your move as easy as possible, as well as our “Moving eBook.”

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Born and raised in Southeast Texas, Adam P. Newton never acquired the charming accent that most life-long Texans possess in spades, but he’s OK with that. Adam currently creates and curates online content for Direct Energy. Before his career in content marketing, Adam spent several years toiling as a music journalist.


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