Wisconsin -

Whether it's college kids heading home or professionals starting a new job, this is the busiest time of year for Americans changing residencies. It also makes it a prime time for scam artists to move in.

When it comes time to move, you can either call friends and family to help or you can call a moving company. But the Better Business Bureau says while legitimate moving campanies can be very helpful, scammers can take everything you own.

The BBB received more than 9,300 complaints against movers in 2013. They included things like damaged and missing items. There were also big price increases over the original quote, and goods being held hostage, usually over price disputes.

So how do you protect yourself? It's important to research your moving company thoroughly. All interstate movers need to be registered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA gives each carrier a unique number, and you can verify that number at protectyourmove.gov.

You can also ask your real-estate agent, they often know reputable companies. Get three written, in-home estimates. If one is way lower than the others you know something is up. Also, crooks aren't likely to send an estimator to your home in advance.

If they are not a scammer, even if they are a legitimate company, there can be some extra, hidden costs you can avoid.

First, know your rights. Companies are required to give you details of your rights ahead of time.  Second, consider buying Full Value Protection. It costs more, but lost or damaged articles are repaired or replaced. Both of these can help you avoid the scenerio of your belongings being held hostage, which usually happens over a dispute about payment.

If you would like to share your scam with us you can email mmcpherson@wkbt.com, please include a copy of the scam.  You can also leave a message on our news8000 facebook page.

You can also report scams to the Consumer Protection Bureau.