Aug. 18, 2008 — -- August is peak moving season, as families rush to get settled in their new locations before the school year starts. Every year, 43 million Americans move, and many of them now search for movers on the Internet.
Yes, I just "yelled" those words because hiring somebody to transport everything you own puts you in a very vulnerable position.
There's a little-known industry you need to be aware of before you relocate. They're called "moving brokers" and experts say the very structure of how they work can cause a lot of headaches for consumers.
Many of the moving sites on the Internet are actually run by moving brokers. (Often they let you think they are movers when, in fact, they are just brokers.) These are middlemen who don't actually move you themselves. Instead, they give you an estimate and then find a mover to haul your stuff.
The problem can be that, when things go wrong, the broker blames the mover and the mover blames the broker and you blame them both.
Unfortunately, the government isn't doing much to protect you, so you'll have to watch out for yourself. In July 2005, Congress passed a law ordering the Department of Transportation to put rules in place to protect people from bad moving brokers, but three years later -- still no rules.
In fact, the new rules governing moving brokers are not expected to be introduced until spring 2009. So here's what to look out for.