Resources to Help You Check Out a Company

Here's how to learn about the reputation of a business before you sign on the dotted line.

You want to make sure a company is reputable before you do business with it. That means doing a thorough check of movers, contractors, auto repair shops, travel consolidators and anyone else who could inconvenience you or, worse, rip you off.

Don't just pick a name from the phone book or off the Web. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations. Or check with an association (there's practically one for every profession and industry. Here are several resources you can use to check out a company.

Associations

American Moving and Storage Association (opens in new tab) has a tool that helps you find AMSA certified movers and van lines.

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AAA (opens in new tab) lets you enter your zip code to find AAA-approved auto repair shops in your area.

American Society of Travel Agents (opens in new tab) locates your local ASTA travel agents.

Consumer protection groups

Council of Better Business Bureaus (opens in new tab) has a searchable database of reliability reports on companies, an online complaint filing system and consumer tips.

Federal Citizen Information Center (opens in new tab) has contact information and links to consumer protection offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and the Virgin Islands. These offices receive and mediate complaints, conduct investigations, prosecute offenders of consumer laws, license and regulate a variety of professionals.

Government agencies

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Protection Division (opens in new tab) accepts complaints online and provides consumer tips.

National Association of Attorneys General (opens in new tab) provides links and contact information for the attorneys general of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Somoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (opens in new tab) has a searchable database where you can see if interstate movers are licensed.

Nationalcontractors.com (opens in new tab) has a state-by-state listing of licensing boards that oversee the construction industry and specialty trades such as landscaping and architects.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (opens in new tab) has an interactive map with contact information for each state's agency that oversees the insurance industry.

Complaint compilers

Rip-off Report (opens in new tab) lets you file and search consumer complaints.

Movingscam.com (opens in new tab) offers news, a message board and blacklist of movers.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.