Contact 6: Avoid getting ripped off by moving companies

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Summer is the busiest time of the year for people looking to move -- and it's also prime time for moving company ripoffs!

"The BBB, Better Business Bureau logged more than 8,500 complaints against movers last year. It's one of the big areas where there's trouble. And let's face it, we don't do it a lot so we're not really experienced. And it's very easy for things to go awry," Tod Marks with Consumer Reports said.

Some moving scams involve companies low-balling estimates and holding belongings hostage until they receive payment.

"And then there's lost, stolen, damaged goods, and late deliveries.  Even an honest mover can disappoint you unless you know your rights," Marks said.

The first line of defense involves knowing your rights -- and getting estimates for at least three companies.

"Take photos, videos, describing the condition. And don't rely on a newspaper, phone book or online ads. Instead get recommendations from friends, from family, from reliable real estate agents," Marks said.

If a mover can't or won't provide an address or licensing information -- move on.

"Never hire a company that relies solely on a phone or online estimate, or one that requires large deposits. That's bad news," Marks said.

Contact a mover immediately upon noticing items are damaged or missing -- and never sign a document releasing them from liability until you are satisfied with the job.