Moving Companies: insured, bonded, and licensed?

While searching for a moving company, it is crucial to find a reputable and reliable group of professionals. And in that search, it is not always easy to recognize what the right choice is. Myriad business owners will make the claim of legitimacy and expertise, but how does one separate true quality from all of the fakes? Plenty of moving companies will claim to be insured, bonded, and licensed. But does this oft-repeated phrase actually mean something? We’ll delve into that right here. 

Licensing

What does a “licensed” moving company actually entail? When you want to find a reputable company to handle your move, you want one that has the legal right to conduct business in your local area. In other words – a moving company with the appropriate business license. With that in mind, a truly legal moving company will have a license number to display. 

Take a look at the company’s business cards, trucks, advertising, and website. If there is no license number on display, that might mean the company does not actually have one. Also, if you know their license number, you can search for the company online and see if there are any outstanding complaints made by consumers against them; as you’ll see later on, this is important. 

Bonding

One of the most important aspects of a reputable moving business is whether it is bonded. Considering that, you should avoid any kind of moving business that operates without a moving and storage bond. Most often, this is a type of surety bond that will ensure there is no possibility of theft by the movers who will be handling your office space or home relocation. 

If a moving company is bonded, that means they’ve set aside funds with a bonding company like BF Bond in case there is ever a situation where a customer makes a claim against them. This is a good way of recognizing a legitimate business, seeing as the money in question isn’t controlled by the business itself, but by an external and entirely separate bonding company. 

Number of Complaints

As we can surmise from above, bonding and licensing are definitely traits you should look for in a legal and legitimate moving business. But these legalities aside, it is also important to examine the experiences other customers have had with the company’s services. Using the license number of the company, try to see if there are complaints against them at the FMCSA. 

This is particularly true for interstate relocations; the FMCSA website has a search engine that leads to specific moving-related complaints. You can see the entire history of FMCSA complaints against a company – hopefully, there won’t be any. 

Barring this, seeing what you can find on the Better Business Bureau website is also not a bad idea. This website contains information on both interstate and intrastate movers. And the BBB is definitely an impartial judge, as they are a non-profit entity looking to showcase trustworthy companies for all consumers to see. If the moving company you are thinking of hiring has a BBB accreditation, that is definitely a good sign. 

Moving Reviews

In the process of picking a moving company you can trust, it’s not all about looking at officially filed complaints. A large majority of people won’t go to the trouble of registering their grievances officially. More often than not, they will simply leave an angry review online. With that in mind, you should search the Internet for more customer experiences. For obvious reasons, the reviews section on the company’s website isn’t a good starting place; the moving company is not likely to post any bad reviews of their work.

Instead, look at websites like Yelp or other review aggregates, that are more likely to contain legitimately written reviews and the objective truth. However, even these places may contain some paid-for positive reviews; be on the lookout for fakes when you try to recognize bonded moving companies.

Apart from the digital world of reviews, there is still something to be said for word of mouth. Feel free to ask your family, friends, and neighbors for their experiences, opinions, and recommendations. 

The Moving Estimate

Before you enlist the services of a moving company, you should know that the way it performs an estimate of your household is a great indicator of their professionalism. Before providing you with a quote, every respectable moving company will make an in-person visit and inspection, or at least request a video survey. 

If a company simply offers you a quote right away, through the Internet or over the phone, this is definitely a red flag for a moving scam. A bonded moving company has “skin in the game” via the funds they’ve invested in their bonding, meaning they won’t risk working purely based on your own assessment of the household goods. This is a good rule of thumb – any moving company giving you quotes without their own first-hand account is not to be trusted. 

Also, once the inspection is completed – your movers should provide you with an estimate (along with potential additional charges) in writing. That leaves no room for unwelcome surprises down the line. 

Professionalism

All of the factors we have mentioned until now are important – but they are also technicalities. When hiring a moving company, consumers should also resort to their common sense. After all, there are telltale signs that separate a legitimate, bonded moving company from a malicious or untrustworthy one. For instance, do they have their own business email address and an actual office? Do they belong to a renowned van line? Do their movers have uniforms, and do they use professional moving trucks? Does the estimate seem to be too affordable to be real? Your own gut feeling is important when you’re about to do business with someone as well. 

Get Your Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond Online

Does your business sell cars? At this time of crisis, we are here to help you get back to business. Applying for a Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond is easy, as we’ve simplified the application process for you. You can apply, get approved, and have your bond quickly, often the same day! All done remotely from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Most US states require a surety bond as a condition of licensing for automotive dealers. Motor vehicle dealer bonds guarantee a licensed motor vehicle dealership will comply with state regulations. Dealer bonds are required to protect consumers from fraud and other wrongful actions committed by dealerships and their employees. The bond’s exact protection will depend on state and/or local laws.


Motor vehicle dealer bond requirements can include motorcycle dealers, mobile home dealers, car dealers, and others. There could be different requirements for new and used vehicle dealers. Some states require a bond for each dealer location.

If you would like to speak with a live customer service representative to walk you through the process of applying and getting approved for a Motor Vehicle Dealer bond today, call us at 1.800.921.1008 or email Info@bfbond.com with any questions. We are here to help.

Administrator Bonds

At this critical time, many families will be affected in many ways by the COVID-19 outbreak across the country. One of those ways will be the loss of a loved one and the requirement for estate administration via the court system. This usually requires an Administration surety bond ordered by the court.

As Investopedia writes, “An administration bond is a bond that is posted on behalf of the administrator of an estate to provide assurance that they will conduct their duties according to the provisions of the will and/or the legal requirements of the jurisdiction.”

But it is much more than that. Facing the loss of a loved one can be difficult. Receiving and accepting the job of an Administrator implies a high level of responsibility to be taken on and can add to the stress and difficulty of dealing with that loss.

We are committed to helping ease that strain by making the bonding process easier to understand, navigate and achieve.

Your bond can be processed in as little as a day (sometimes faster, depending upon the complexity of your situation) and does not require trips to an office location. It can be done securely online with BFBond.com

We can assist you with all types of probate bonds: Administrator, Executor, Conservator, Guardian, and Trustee Bonds. Click below to apply today.

Surety Bonding for Contractors

One way for a construction contracting company to ensure access to critical relationships needed for sound business advice and for qualifying for surety credit is to partner with a professional surety bond producer, according to experts at the National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP).

Most contractors know that surety bonds help establish their credentials, demonstrating their ability to perform through performance and payment bonds. However, they may not realize the full value of building a relationship with an experienced bond producer like BFBond.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc.

We help guide companies through the process of achieving surety credit and act in many capacities – mentors, educators, advisors – with construction firms to ensure that they mature and remain successful. Check out our Surety Bond Primer below:

A surety bond is a legally binding contract that makes sure three parties carry out their obligations: the surety company, obligee, and principal. The surety company is the one that provides assurance to the owner (obligee) that the contractor (principal) will carry out a contract. Being in the contracting business comes with many tasks one of which is being bonded. Bonding requires a contractor to know requirements of a project, type of bond and the amount involved. As a contractor, you should know that having a surety bond is not the same as securing insurance. A surety bond is meant to cushion the obligee against a shoddy or unfinished job. Below are tips that will assist you to get bonded as a contractor and make the process of getting bonded efficiently:

Understand how surety bonds work

Know the difference between insurance and surety bonds. Insurance protects your business but bonds don’t. A surety bond is an additional security feature for a client. There are three main types of bonds:

Bid bond

This a bond that guarantees a bid has been proposed with good intentions and the contractor will carry out stated obligations at the bidding price.

Performance bond

This is a surety bond that cushions the owner against financial loss in case the contractor fails to carry out the contract as specified in the terms and conditions.

Payment bond

This is a bond that guarantees that the contractor will meet expenses for paying a given cadre of workers, subcontractors, and suppliers of equipment.

Be acquainted with bond pricing

The prices of surety bonds are based on a percentage of the total value of the bond that is required. The bond premiums vary according to the type of bond, size, and duration. The variation is from 0.5% to 10%.

Partner with a credible surety agency

When you work with a credible agency like BFBond.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. (Check out our Google Reviews!) you will get a bond that is affordable and fits into your job requirements. We take the time to research surety options available to you and help you decide what’s best for your unique situation.

Learn more at BFBond.com or call us at 800.921.1008

5 Star Service for License & Permit Surety Bonds with BFBond.com

Are you starting a business or do you own an established business that requires a license from your local Department of Consumer Affairs or State Government? Does that license require you to get a Surety Bond?

We get lots of first time clients that are unaware of what surety bonds are, and how to properly obtain one, and many established businesses that come to us unhappy with their current bond providers. We love educating our customers and giving them the right tools to create or maintain a successful business when it comes to Surety Bonding.

Surety Bonds are sometimes required by a municipality or other public body as a condition to granting a license or permit to engage in a specified activity, this bond guarantees that the party seeking the license or permit (the obligor) will comply with applicable laws or regulations. These bonds can also be structured to provide indemnity guarantees to third parties who sustain injury or damage as a result of the obligor’s activities as described in the license or permit when such a guarantee is required. For example, businesses that hang signs over public sidewalks may be required to provide indemnity guarantees for injuries to pedestrians.

We at BFBond.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. take pride in our stellar customer service. (Don’t take our word for it, check our ratings on Google HERE) We will walk you through the process step by step and get you bonded fast, with great rates. If the bond you require needs to be renewed, our renewal process is effortless when the time comes.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs  recommends BFBond.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. (Formerly Advanced Insurance Services) as a Surety Bonding agency for your consideration, but we also provide surety bonds nationwide! Join our client family and see what the great reviews are all about.

Call 800-921-1008, apply online at BFBond.com and live chat with us or visit our office at 29 Broadway, Suite 1511 New York, NY 10006 directly across the street from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ offices.

 

 

Mechanic’s Lien Bond aka Bond Around a Lien

Mechanic’s Lien Bond aka Bond around a lien, lien release bond, and bonding off a lien.

What is a Mechanic’s Lien?

Mechanic’s liens in their modern form were first conceived by Thomas Jefferson, to encourage construction in the new capital city of Washington. They were established by the Maryland General Assembly, of which the city of Washington was then a part.

However, it is not likely that Jefferson single-handedly dreamed up the idea. A lien is a mechanism used by contractors and suppliers to force payment of outstanding monies due from the owner, tenant or landowner. A Mechanic’s Lien will assure that the owner completes all required payments to the contractors participating in the project. It is also sometimes called a material man’s lien or supplier’s lien which can be confusing for some people, but they all are in fact the same thing.

What is a Mechanic’s Lien  Release Bond?

A Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond is a type of Surety Bond. If a contractor allegedly receives no payment for products or services, he or she can file a Mechanic’s Lien which prevents the other party from selling or transferring property and it allows the contractor to sue the other party.

With a Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond, the surety company guarantees the claim in the event that the court enforces the payment of the claim. It guarantees that the payment will be made if the lien is not successfully contested.

If a subcontractor or other entity has put a mechanic’s lien on your property, you can get a  Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond to remove the lien.

How Does a  Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond Work?

A Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond allows property owners to do with their property what they would if a lien was not present: sell the property, get further remodeling done, etc. In a way, it works as an extension of credit. The bond proves that the property owner has sufficient funds to pay the people involved.

It can also be referred to as a discharge of a Mechanic’s Lien Bond. The word discharge can cause some confusion because a discharge of Mechanic’s Lien Bond (Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond) does not extinguish the mechanic’s lien entirely. It discharges the lien from the property and attaches it to the bond.

The bond is usually issued at a percentage over the lien amount, depending upon the state in which the lien was placed.

Purpose of a Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond.

There are a few types of bonds that tie in with the construction industry. Each of them serves an entirely different purpose.

Two common entities that need to obtain Mechanic’s Lien Release Bonds are property owners and contractors who are obliged to discharge any mechanic’s liens filed by suppliers or subcontractors.

Its purpose is to remove the mechanic’s lien from real property and the mechanic’s lien then attaches to the bond until it is dismissed in some way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there only one person responsible?

 A: Sometimes. When building a multi-family property all owners could potentially be part of the process and everyone will be responsible for a portion of the claim.

Q: How long does a mechanic’s lien last?

A: Once filed, the mechanic’s lien will last for a period of one year.  Mechanic’s liens on private commercial projects and on public improvements may be extended for one additional year.

Q: How do I satisfy a mechanic’s lien?

A:  A satisfaction of a mechanic’s lien can be filed with the County Clerk or the public entity where the mechanic’s lien was filed. That is after you either post the Bond or pay off the lien.

When applying, the following information should be included for faster bonding.

1) A completed court bond application – Will provide basic information of the bond being requested, as well as information on the principal requesting the bond.

2) Copy of the mechanic’s lien – A copy of the mechanic’s lien can be uploaded in the online application and will provide information to the amount of the lien and parties claiming that payment is still due.

Call us at 800.921.1008 to speak with a professional regarding your specific situation or apply below for a quick turnaround on your Mechanic’s Lien Release Bond.

Bidding War: Preventing Subcontractor Collusion

Collusion is a word we hear a lot lately, did you know that it happens in the bidding process to gain an unfair advantage? According to Construction Business Owner Magazine, it happens in the construction industry by unscrupulous bidders.

Most public and some private companies require a competitive public bidding process to choose the best qualified contractors who will provide the lowest prices, the best services, and the most innovative solutions. The competitive process achieves those goals only when companies compete honestly and ethically and agree to the terms up front. Bid rigging disrupts this natural market competition and often results in shoddy work, cut corners and the use of subpar materials.

Bid rigging occurs when subcontractors (subs), who would otherwise have to compete for the job, covertly conspire to raise their prices or reduce the quality of goods or services to win the project. It’s a criminal act, and fraudsters can be investigated and prosecuted if collusion is discovered.

Here are four of the most common bid-rigging schemes.

  • Bid suppression—This scheme suppresses or limits the number of bids that will be accepted for the project. It occurs when a group of subcontractors secretly assent that some of the bidders will refrain from submitting a proposal. If the bid has already been submitted, the sub may withdraw it. This type of fraud breaches the competitive process so that a predetermined sub in the group will win the bid.
  • Complementary bidding—This scheme is similar to bid suppression. A group of subs conspires to throw the competitive process by predetermining who will win the bid. Unlike bid suppression, in complementary bidding schemes, all participants submit a proposal. Some of the bids will include exclusions or codicils that will disqualify them or render their submission incomplete or nonresponsive. Complementary bid-rigging groups ensure members can be part of the conspiratorial contractor and therefore be awarded a contract at some point for their participation in the fraud.
  • Bid rotation—Just as the name suggests, this fraud scheme involves a collusive group of subs who conspire to “take turns” winning projects. Participants know the others’ pricing up front and price their bids accordingly, thus removing any guesswork from the process.
  • Guaranteed subcontracting—In this bid-rigging scheme, conspirators are awarded pieces of the project in exchange for not submitting a bid that would grant them the entire scope of work. As such, participants have an equal opportunity to be the main sub on the project.

Unfortunately, many general contractors and developers may not even realize their projects involve bid rigging. The following checklist can assist the procurement team in deterring and detecting potential bid-rigging schemes.

  1. Understand market conditions—Contractors and developers know the industry ebbs and flows based on the economy, and the competition and pricing follow suit. Pay attention to current bid pricing on comparable projects to keep a pulse on what things cost.
  2. Provide training—Make sure staff understand the telltale signs of potential bid ridding, such as:
    • Significantly lower prices than have been previously tendered for similar services or goods
    • Identical or oddly similar pricing from multiple bidders
    • Fewer bids than should have been suspected
    • Unnecessary joint bids
    • Seemingly intentional errors or omissions that disqualify an otherwise viable bid
  3. Restrict communication among bidders—Avoid opportunities for bidders to have visibility and contact with competitors. Refrain from hosting group jobsite visits, and use blind copy for any email communications.
  4. Expand the list of potential bidders—Open the request-for-proposal (RFP) process to a broader group of subs or expand the geographical region to increase the diversity of bidders. Another option is to openly state the number of bids required for the RFP to be considered substantial.
  5. Make non-collusion affidavits a standard practice—This should be a regular practice for bidders in all bid documents.
  6. Clearly communicate bid requirements—Provide bid documents that explain what proposals should include and the criteria for their evaluation.
  7. Exercise right of refusal—If the competition feels unfair or raises any red flags of collusion, be empowered to reject the bids and reopen the call for proposals.

Understanding and recognizing potential bid-rigging schemes and setting clear expectations and criteria in all bid documents can help general contractors and business owners achieve the best possible outcomes of their RFPs. More than that, though, is the importance of ensuring public bidding processes are fair, equitable and ethical, and protecting the integrity of the construction industry.

Keep this in mind when you bid, and keep us in mind when you need  Bid, Performance, Payment, Maintenance, and Supply Bonds. Our online application makes it easy to apply for a bond and our excellent customer service (4.9 Stars on Google) and knowledgeable bond underwriters will make sure your bonding goes smoothly. Call us at 800.921.1008, visit us at BFBond.com to live chat with us, or apply for a bond with the link below.

 

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Business from Employee Theft

An employee slips merchandise into her purse. Or maybe someone makes a company check out to himself, or pilfers supplies from the stock room. Even before you discover the crime, your business may have lost a bundle of money.

A 2016 poll on employee theft found that 80% of embezzlement happens at small businesses.

How Big an Issue Is Employee Theft?

According to our claims data, burglary or theft is the most common reason for small business insurance claims, accounting for 20% of all claims. In some cases, an employee turns out to be the culprit.

You can mitigate the risk and protect your company by making sure you have Crime Bond (Fidelity Bond) to cover losses due to employee theft. But understanding how and why employees steal may help you head off problems in the first place.

There are a variety of ways an employee can steal from a company. For example, workers can steal money, take home items of value, or snag your intellectual property.

Charles Read, an accountant, and CEO of the payroll company GetPayroll/Simon learned about employee theft the hard way when he first started his business. He discovered a receptionist was taking accounts receivable checks, whiting out the company name, writing in her own name, and cashing them at the bank. Read discovered the crime after his company sent a past-due notice to a client. “They sent us a copy of the check with her name on it,” he says. “That’s how we caught her.”

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Business.

Fortunately, you might not have to go through a similar experience if you put basic security measures in place. BF Bond is here to help. Here are four steps to take to protect your company from sticky-fingered employees:

Screen new hires carefully.

Preventing employee stealing begins during the hiring process. Checking out an applicant thoroughly can save you headaches and money, and it’s crucial to follow employee screening laws in your state.

For example, you can and should check a job candidate’s social media profiles after you conduct a job interview. But only look at public content, and never ask for social media passwords, which can put you at risk of violating federal law, warns the Society for Human Resource Management. If you want to check a candidate’s personal credit, you’ll need to get permission in writing.

Pre-employment screening companies can do a background check for $50 to $200 per person, Springer says. Make sure you check references as well. Even big companies get burned by failing to find out why a candidate left a previous job. “Maybe they were fired for stealing,” he says.

Get employees to sign a computer policy.

When bringing a new employee on-board, ask him to sign a short document stating that the company computer is the property of the business and that you as the employer have a right to check it at any time, If you have a problem, you can go in and look at the computer after the employee leaves for the day,” he says.

Take steps to beef up security.

You should take several actions to reduce opportunities for employees to steal. For example:

Don’t give one employee too much control. For example, if one employee cuts checks, a different employee should sign them.

Get hands-on with finances. Put a policy in place that you personally must sign off on payments above a certain amount.

Keep a tight hold on the company credit card. Rather than getting employees their own cards, if an employee needs to make a purchase, hand them your card, get it back when they return from the store, and check your account soon after. If they need to travel, give them a cash advance and insist on getting receipts for every expenditure.

Lock down goods and checks. Lock up office supplies and, if you sell a physical product, keep strict merchandise controls in place. If you have company checks, keep them under lock and key no matter how much you trust your employees. A cautionary tale: One small business was shocked to discover that an employee they had raised like a daughter was using company checks to buy her groceries.

Employee theft often starts out small — for example, an employee who’s short of cash for lunch “borrows” $10 from the cash drawer to buy a sub and chips, and they pay it back later. Maybe the second or third time, they “forget” to replace the cash, and so on. The key is to remove the temptation as much as possible so they don’t get started.

Watch out for warning signs.

No matter how much you trust your employees, look for telltale red flags that could suggest something is wrong, Springer recommends. These tip-offs include: money problems, a disgruntled attitude, a lavish lifestyle that outpaces their paycheck, personal problems, excessive chumminess with customers or suppliers, and a reluctance to go on vacation or otherwise miss work. Of course, these signs don’t always signal stealing, but might mean that an employee merits closer scrutiny.

Acquire a Fidelity Bond from BFBond.com to protect your business interests.

These types of bonds are meant to avert serious financial damages and losses to companies in the event of any fraud, forgery, alteration or embezzlement.

BFBond.com Crime Bonds are valuable insurance tools for any business, especially those dealing with money.

Fidelity Bond Types.

Fidelity bonds represent a high level of flexibility. There are currently two major types available.

The first is known as a First Party Fidelity Bond, which, in essence, is to protect a company from its employees if they steal something of the company assets, or commit fraud.

A First Party Fidelity Bond will cover nearly all company damages arising due to financial crimes against a company or its customers.

The second main type is a Third Party Fidelity Bond, which protects businesses under similar circumstances. However, a Third Party Fidelity Bond offers ultimate coverage against most illegal acts such as fraud, scams, or other thefts committed by employees.

If theft happens, take action quickly to mitigate the damage and prevent further losses. If you suspect that an employee has stolen from you, you need to let your surety company know right away,  Inform them that you’re investigating the matter and will report back with details and documentation of how the theft occurred.

The protection offered by Fidelity Bonds is important because a stealing employee can rob a small business of thousands — or even tens or hundreds of thousands — of dollars that can make or break a small business.

Applying for a Fidelity Bond is not difficult, as we’ve simplified the process for you into easy to understand steps, which can be found on our Fidelity Bond application here. You can also call us at 800.921.1008, read more about Fidelity Bonds and live chat with us at BFBond.com.

 

Maryland General Contractors: Senate Bill 853 Means More Liability

Come October 1st 2018, a general contractor will become jointly and severally liable for subcontractors’ failure to pay employees!

 

With this new law now in place, general contractors’ policies towards their subcontractors and their requirement for subcontractors’ surety bond status may change significantly. Wage claims in Maryland can be made for as much as three years after an incident. As a result, general contractors are sure to demand that subcontractors obtain and maintain bonds for at least three years after performing work on a project.

 

What’s more, since a court may award claimants with as much as three times the wages owed, subcontractors will likely be required to obtain bonds in amounts that will be able to cover high claim amounts.

 

Call us at 800.921.1008 or visit BFBond.com to get bonded quickly at great rates! 

Secondhand dealers can now apply for a bond online at BFBond.com

Bernard Fleischer & Sons / BFBond.com now offers the bond required by the NYC Consumer Affairs Department for Secondhand dealers in an EZ online application with no credit checks. Apply > Pay > Receive Bond via email. Apply here www.bfbond.com/bfapps/NYSHD/NYSecondHandDealer.php

 

A Secondhand Dealer General license is required to buy or sell secondhand articles in New York City. Buying and selling automobiles or firearms requires separate licenses.

Used clothing stores, garage sales, used boat dealers, and not-for-profit organizations are exempt from the Secondhand Dealer General license requirement. Not-for-profit organizations must keep proof of being registered as a nonprofit and must maintain books and records on their premises.

 

Bernard Fleischer & Sons / BFBond.com is a nationwide surety bond broker offering simple, fast solutions for all types of surety bonding in the United states. We offer competitive pricing with multiple carriers as well as world class support. For free information on your surety bonding needs, call Jose at 800-921-1008 or visit us at www.bfbond.com to receive a free quote.