Whether it is from one state to another or from one town to another, anyone who has been through a move understands that it can be stressful. In some cases, unscrupulous moving companies who are looking to make a quick buck take advantage of a person's vulnerability.

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More than 5,600 moving fraud complaints have been filed over the last two years according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The average loss claim is $25,000. Florida is the number one state in the country with more than 1,000 complaints. California came in second with 376 and New Jersey ranked third with 271 complaints.

In addition to Florida, California and New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon and Connecticut rank among the top 10 when it comes to moving fraud complaints.

"The fact that New Jersey is third is part of the fact that we are a very densely populated state," said Steve Lee, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.  "But, issues with moving companies is something the Division takes very seriously and it is always an important issue for us."

If you are planning a move, the Division of Consumer Affairs recommends the following:

  • Do your homework;
  • Get recommendations whenever possible;
  • Do as much research online or from other sources as you can;
  • Obtain a written estimate from the mover;
  • Know how the rates are going to be calculated.

"It is important to get all terms in writing and enter into a contract,"  Lee said. "If a moving company is hesitant to give you a written estimate and they can't easily tell you how they calculate those rates, that should be a warning sign. That is information that should have easily available. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with a particular company, move on and don't even take a chance."

Each year, 36 million Americans move and 4.7 million household moves are across state lines. The FMSCA has started a Protect Your Move campaign designed to combat interstate moving fraud by educating consumers on how to plan a successful move and how to report if they have been victims of a moving scam.

"No moving company should ever offer an estimate sight unseen. Don't ever sign a blank document and beware of anyone who is asking for a significant amount of money upfront," said Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Office of Enforcement and Complaint at FMCSA.