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When moving, it pays to plan ahead

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ATLANTA -

Moving season is just ahead of us, and that means rogue moving companies are getting ready to try to get your business. Most people don't make a big family move until school is out, but right now is the time to start thinking about the moving company you'll hire.

Atlanta has a big problem with rogue moving companies.  The city is ranked in the top 10, so it's up to the consumer to do homework before you hand over all of your worldly possessions to complete strangers.

A business that called itself Real Movers is classic rogue mover. State and federal regulators logged so many complaints against the company it was considered rogue. One family reported to the BBB that Real Movers gave them one estimate, but once they had their belongings on a truck out of state, the price changed.

"We feel like we've been tricked and manipulated by these people, and it's really frustrating.," said Lindsey Wolny in an interview in 2011.

Anne Ferro runs the Federal Motor Carrier Administration -- the regulators for interstate movers.  At the industry's annual meeting, she said her number one rogue carrier red flag is when they refuse to make a house call for your moving estimate.

"We can do this over the phone. We don't have to come out to your home. Make them come to your home.  You're going to need to pay a deposit.  No, don't do it," said Ferro.

She says they offer a low estimate, get a deposit, pick up your things then the price escalates.
 
So what can you do? Do your homework. The Better Business Bureau tracks the industry.  Also, you can call the Georgia Department of Public Safety for a guide to licensed movers.

And now you can look for a "ProMovers" seal for those who earn it.

"The industry realized because of the Internet rogues that we need to, as an industry, to give the consumer some reliable starting point when they shop for a mover," said John Bisney of the American Moving and Storage Association.

Homework up front is better than dealing with this kind of customer service when you are desperate to get back your belongings. It pays to get estimates, at least three of them.  If one of them is much lower than the others, be suspicious.  Below is a list of resources to help you plan your move:

WWW.GAMCCD.NET
WWW.ATLANTA.BBB.ORG
WWW.MOVING.ORG
WWW.PROTECTYOURMOVE.GOV

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