The housing market is hot right now, so a lot of people are moving. That also means scammers are looking for any way to capitalize on this trend.

AARP recently issued a “watchdog alert” to help keep you and your belongings safe when hiring a moving company.

Most scammers posing as movers will post ads for their cheap services online or sometimes, even in newspapers. It should be a red flag if the company gives you an estimate without going through a detailed list of your belongings or coming to your home for an in-person estimate.

Also, beware if the movers require a large deposit or full payment in advance.

AARP says once these fraudulent movers have your belongings, they jack up the price and sometimes even refuse delivery. This is known as a “hostage load.”

To avoid this, AARP says it’s important to do your research ahead of time. Pay special attention to the company’s website. AARP said if it does not list a local address or provide information about its registration and your insurance options, that’s a red flag.

Every moving company must also register with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can look up a company by visiting www.ProtectYourMove.gov. If the company you’re thinking about hiring is not registered, do not give them your business.

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