State warns consumers before hiring a mover
Non-permitted moving companies conduct risky business
OLYMPIA, Wash. – If you need to hire a moving company for an in-state move, the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has some words of caution: check with the state, before it’s too late!
Currently, there are a number of moving companies falsely advertising that they are “licensed and insured.” However, only those in-state moving companies permitted with the UTC are allowed to legally provide moving services. Customers who hire these illegal companies typically have little or no recourse if their belongings are damaged, lost or stolen.
Numerous state laws and rules protect consumers of in-state moving companies. The UTC enforces these laws and can assist customers who have a complaint against a moving company. Moving companies are required to include their UTC permit number in their advertising. Look for a valid permit number with a prefix of THG or HG, for example: HG-89222, when scouting for a company.
The commission conducts regular investigations to ensure in-state moving companies are permitted, insured and in compliance with state consumer and safety laws. In 2013, UTC staff investigated more than 60 non-permitted moving companies.
The commission conducts regular safety inspections to ensure the equipment and trucks used by permitted companies are in safe working condition. Customers have no guarantee that a non-permitted company has proper insurance or safe equipment. 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 home and is entrusted with their belongings, these measures are designed to protect the customers’ possessions as well as their safety.
Before a customer even packs a box, he or she should first call the commission and confirm the company’s permit is valid. He or she can also find out about any consumer complaints filed against the company.
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 commission does not regulate interstate moving companies.
Editor’s note: People may check on the credentials of a residential moving company at www.utc.wa.gov/movingtips
or by calling 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).