N.Y. (WETM) — The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection released a guide to help people avoid getting scammed while moving homes.

“Hiring a moving or storage company and trusting them with your belongings is a big decision that requires a lot of research and consideration,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “A company may appear to be a trusted business online, but in reality, they may be professional scammers looking to steal your belongings or your hard-earned money.”

Moving can be very stressful enough without getting scammed, so it’s important to be vigilant to protect yourself. If you’re hiring a moving service, there are steps you can take to avoid falling victim to scams.

The Division of Consumer Protection’s guide suggests thoroughly researching different moving companies before choosing one. Check online for moving company reviews to see if the movers are legitimate and if other customers have had issues. The movers you are considering should have a real physical address, detailed contact information, and good reviews from customers.

The guide also suggests getting estimates from at least three different moving companies. If the moving company doesn’t ask about the number of items being moved, don’t trust the given estimate. You should never sign a blank or incomplete estimate either. Doing this could lead to dishonest movers changing the price later. After you receive a binding estimate, the price cannot legally be higher unless you add more services later.

Before hiring a mover, you should make sure they are licensed. According to the Division of Consumer Protection, all movers in New York State must be licensed. To verify your mover is licensed, you can call the Department of Transportation at 518-457-6512 or email nymoving@dot.ny.gov. If you’re moving out of state from New York, the mover must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can check your mover’s registration status using the FMCSA’s search function.

If a moving company asks for large upfront payments or full payments before the move, this could be a sign of a scam. Be sure to review all of the costs and terms in your contract. If the movers try to talk you out of signing written contracts (particularly those protecting you in case of lost or stolen items) this could also be a sign of a scam. Before your move starts, the guide suggests taking inventory of all of your items. You can do this by taking pictures of your belongings and making a written list.

For information on your moving rights, you can check out the Summary of Information booklet from the New York State Department of Transportation or the FMCSA’s guide if you are moving to another state.

If you have any issues with your movers, you should try to resolve these problems with the moving company. If this isn’t possible, you can file an interstate move complaint with the FMCSA. You can file a complaint with the New York State Department of Transportation for issues with moves within New York.