The state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission is urging consumers to research moving companies before hiring one.

May is Safe Moving Month and the commission, which regulates moving companies in Washington, is using it as an opportunity to warn consumers about unlicensed movers. A number of moving companies falsely advertise themselves as “licensed and insured,” according to a press release from the commission.

Moving services providing in-state residential moving services must have permits from the UTC to operate. Consumers that hire companies operating illegally typically have little or no recourse if their belongings are damaged, lost, or stolen, according to the release.

Moving companies are required to include their UTC permit numbers in their advertising. Valid permit numbers begin with a prefix of THG or HG. Consumers can check that a company’s permit is valid on the UTC’s website.

Consumers can online review a company’s complaint history online.

The UTC regularly investigates moving companies to ensure they are permitted, insured, and in compliance with state consumer protection and safety laws. It also helps consumers with complaints against moving companies. To file a complaint, consumers can fill out an online form, email consumer@utc.wa.gov, or call 1-888-333-9882.

In the past year, the UTC took action against 17 nonpermitted moving companies, and issued $154,000 in penalties to illegal operations, in addition to ordering them to cease operations, according to the release.

The UTC offers tips for moving safely on its website.