Summer is moving season – the time of the year when real estate sales are high and people begin a new chapter in their lives with fresh hopes and dreams in their new homes. But while this life change can be exciting, it can also be unpredictable. Unfortunately, moving season has also become a prime time of year for scam artists to prey on unsuspecting homebuyers and renters.

There are levels of danger to consider when entrusting your personal belongings to a moving company – everything from inconveniences such as add-on costs and delays to actual theft and damage. Each summer, we take calls from disgruntled people who unfortunately hired the wrong moving company and are faced with not knowing where their belongings are or after-the-fact cost increases in the thousands of dollars. Just last week we answered an emergency call from yet another person whose internet moving company told them the day before they had to be out of their house that they wouldn’t be able to be there for five days and that the price had doubled. Buyer beware!

This is your household. Your personal belongings. Your memories, treasures and your everyday way-of-life. While you would think that these are not things to be taken lightly, too many people are trusting the care of them to people they don’t know. But there are some things you can do to take the uncertainty and danger out of your move.

First, never sign on to use a mover that you haven’t met. While the World Wide Web is the universal conduit to products and services of all kinds, trusting your household belongings to someone you found on a web search and know only through a reply e-mail leaves you unbelievably vulnerable.

Second, understand the terms of your relationship with the company and the services that you’ll be provided. That includes having the company show you its licensing and insurance, but also offering a firm understanding of the final costs and delivery times – before you sign a contract. Never should you have to worry about a moving company coming back to you with “overages” for normal moving expenses such as fuel and equipment.

Third, don’t submit deposits on your move. You’re doing nothing but adding insult to injury if you’ve been taking advantage of – and, you’ve already turned money over. A legitimate moving company’s priority is getting your belongings safely from Point A to Point B in a way that provides you comfort and certainty.

Moving can be a great experience, but it can also be stressful. You can lessen your stress by using an legitimate and familiar moving company to help carry your belongings to what’s next in your life.