Warning about hiring a mover | Better Business Bureau

The Utilities and Transportation Commission and Better Business Bureau have some words of caution for consumers who need to hire a moving company for an in-state move: check with the state before it’s too late.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission and Better Business Bureau have some words of caution for consumers who need to hire a moving company for an in-state move: check with the state before it’s too late.

There are moving companies falsely advertising that they are “licensed and insured.” However, only those moving companies with a permit from UTC are allowed to legally provide residential moving services in Washington state. People who hire illegal companies typically have little or no recourse if their belongings are damaged, lost or stolen.

“Before you entrust all of your worldly possessions to a moving company, make sure they are properly permitted,” says Steve King, the commission’s executive director. “In our experience, we have seen many illegal movers with extensive criminal records. Some have even held customer’s goods ransom, or disappeared with them altogether.”

Numerous state laws and rules protect customers of in-state moving companies. The UTC enforces these laws and can assist people who have a complaint against a regulated moving company.

State laws also require companies to conduct background checks and drug testing of potential employees. Because a mover interacts so closely with customers in their homes, these measures are designed to protect the customer’s safety, as well as, their possessions.

“We hear too many horror stories from people who were tricked by shady moving companies or have had their personal belongings held hostage for more money,” says Tyler Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “Moving can be exciting, but it is a stressful step. With the right preparation and research, there’s no reason moving shouldn’t be hassle-free.”

Between April 1, 2014, and April 1, 2015, consumers turned to the BBB 30,149 times to look up BBB Business Reviews on Washington moving companies. In the same period, consumers filed 120 complaints against Washington moving companies.

Before a customer even packs a box, the BBB and UTC offer the following tips for hiring a moving company:


  • Contact the commission to confirm the company has a valid permit and inquire about any consumer complaints. Call 1-888-333-9882 or visit www.utc.wa.gov/movingtips.
  • Check with BBB to find out the company’s rating and determine if there are any complaints filed against them. Start at bbb.org/search.
  • Be sure to receive a free written estimate – moving companies are required to provide one.
  • Get estimates from at least three different companies and do not make a decision based on price alone.
  • Finally, do not sign any incomplete documents. Make sure all forms are as complete as possible.


The UTC is the state’s watchdog agency in charge of enforcing consumer protection and safety regulations for more than 200 permitted residential moving companies operating within Washington. Movers must charge proper rates, carry insurance and safely maintain their vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Commission not the UTC regulates interstate moving companies.

More in Business

Railroads implementing positive track

While the investigation continues into the deadly AMTRAK derailment near Dupont, the clock continues to tick on the implementation of Positive Track Control (PTC). The deadline is Dec. 31, 2018.

Keep the holiday spirit all year long | Don Brunell

During the holidays, our thoughts naturally turn to giving — not just giving gifts, but donating our time and money to charities, disasters and community programs.

Finding balance in occupational licensing

Recently, the Institute for Justice (Institute) determined state licensing barriers for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs not only hurts people trying to establish themselves in a profession, but annually drives consumer prices up by $203 billion.

Remember 1993

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.

Remembering Ed Carlson, Vietnam POW

Since last Veteran’s Day, Ken Burns’ in-depth documentary on the Vietnam War has aired. It is a powerful reminder of an unpopular war in which many “baby boomers” fought and died.

Rural prosperity essential to Washington

While Seattle is growing rapidly, our rural areas continue to struggle. They don’t have the corporate giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing creating jobs and economic opportunities. Farms are predominantly family-owned.

Amazon’s plan reminiscent Boeing’s Chicago move

Last year, Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates wrote about the similarities and differences between Boeing’s corporate office move to Chicago and Amazon’s plan for a second headquarters.

LiveLocal98022 meeting cancelled

Bob Green, the night’s speaker, notified the organization he couldn’t attend due to an illness.

Expanded Panama Canal among challenges for Washington Ports

The $5.4 billion spent to expand the Panama Canal is paying off for East Coast and Gulf of Mexico seaports; however, it is putting more pressure on the Northwest to remain competitive.

Players taking a knee hurting the NFL | Don Brunell

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Portland, a young woman stepped onto the playing field at the beginning of the University of Montana vs Portland State football game and started singing our national anthem. She immediately drew a blank on the words and briefly stopped, but as she started apologizing, the fans spontaneously took up the singing.

New metal collecting machine may clean up contaminated waters

There is a new machine being tested in Montana which could decontaminate toxic mine tailings while recovering valuable precious minerals for everyday use.

Workshop will focus on business, social media

All are invited to learn how social media can impact business and how it can be used to create a positive experience for customers.