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Moving Company Vs. Moving Broker: What You Need to Know Before You Hire

Posted by Daphne Jefferson, Deputy Administrator, FMCSA

If you are one of the more than 800,000 Americans estimated to hire a professional moving company this year, it is important that you understand the process, and know how to spot the “red flags” of moving fraud.

Many of the more than 3,600 complaints our agency received last year contain instances where an unscrupulous company takes advantage of many consumers who do not understand the difference between a broker and a mover. graphic

Simply stated, a broker is an agent who connects a consumer with a moving company. They provide the convenience of finding a moving company, and in many cases, can save the consumer time because they have agreements with several companies.

It is important to know that when a broker provides an estimate, that amount is for the entire move. In many scams, the broker will collect a large deposit, with the consumer assuming this amount will be deducted from the moving cost.  However, when the mover arrives, they ask for additional funds from the consumer—many times after the goods have been loaded onto the truck.

Additionally, brokers are required to:

  • Register with the FMCSA.
  • Provide the customer with the FMCSA Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet and the Ready to Move brochure.
  • Provide a list of the moving companies they use.
  • Use only movers that are registered with the FMCSA.
  • Have a written agreement with the movers they use.
  • Base binding or non-binding estimates on the tariff of the mover that will transport the shipment.
  • Reference in their advertisements their physical location, U.S. DOT number and their status as a broker that does not transport goods, but arranges for this service.
  • Ensure the mover that is transporting the shipment performs a physical survey of the household goods to be moved if they are within a 50-mile radius of the mover.

Moving companies are the firms that do the actual move. They own trucks and moving equipment and have a professional moving staff. Many of the companies provide full-service moves and do not use a broker.

Remember, there are benefits to using a moving broker, so don’t dismiss the idea—just make sure you are comfortable that they are meeting all their federally-mandated obligations.

To learn more about the moving process, including gathering resources to help you select a mover, spot the “red flags” of moving fraud and file a complaint, visit