August 7, 2023

How to Avoid Moving Scams

Moving to a new home can be an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. One of many people’s biggest concerns is falling victim to moving scams. Some moving companies must be more honest, while others may resort to dishonest practices such as overcharging or withholding your belongings until you pay additional fees.

Choosing the right mover requires careful consideration, and selecting the right partner can ensure your move is easy and stress-free.

What Is A Moving Scam?

Fraudulent moving companies can sometimes trick customers by giving fake estimates, holding belongings hostage, or even stealing them. These scams can leave victims feeling powerless and violated. To protect yourself, it’s important to familiarize yourself with common moving scams and how they operate.

Common Moving Scams And How They Work

  • Low-ball estimates: Dishonest moving companies often entice customers with unrealistically low estimates to win their business. They raise the price once they have your belongings, citing unforeseen problems or additional work. Unfortunately, to retrieve your possessions, you have no choice but to pay more.
  • Hostage situations: Fraudulent movers may hold your belongings for ransom in a scam. They demand more money to release your items. They may claim that your items weigh more than initially estimated or that additional services were required, thereby inflating the price. Unfortunately, these scammers may refuse to return your belongings until you comply with their demands.
  • Disappearing acts: In one of the worst cases, the moving company takes your deposit and doesn’t complete the move. Scammers may put the customer’s stuff on their truck and vanish, leaving no way to find them. Scams like this can hurt people a lot, both financially and emotionally.

Researching Moving Companies

To avoid falling prey to moving scams, conducting thorough research is vital before selecting a moving company.

  • Check licensing: Ensure the moving company is licensed and insured. Interstate movers must have a valid U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number in the United States.
  • Read reviews: Consult customer reviews and comments on trusted platforms such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Yelp to gauge the reputation and reliability of potential movers.
  • Get referrals: To find an excellent moving company, Seek recommendations from friends, family, or coworkers who have had positive experiences with moving companies. Personal referrals often provide valuable insights and trustworthy leads.

Red Flags To Look Out For

Watch out for the following red flags or warning signs of a potential moving scam.

  • Low-ball estimates: Be wary of estimates that seem too good to be true, as they often are.
  • Large deposits: Legitimate movers usually require a small deposit or no deposit at all. Scammers, on the other hand, may demand substantial upfront payments.
  • Lack of physical address: Reputable moving companies have a physical address and a local presence. Exercise caution when dealing with companies that provide only a P.O. Box or vague location details.

Protecting Yourself

Take action to minimize the risk of falling victim to a moving scam.

  • Understand your rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities when hiring a moving company. Resources provided by organizations such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the United States can offer valuable guidance.
  • Take inventory of your belongings: Before the move, create a detailed inventory list of all your possessions. This comprehensive record will help you keep track of your items and provide evidence in case of any disputes.
  • Get everything in writing: Ensure all agreements, estimates and contracts are documented in writing. This includes any modifications or changes to the original agreement. Having everything in writing serves as concrete evidence and protects your interests.

What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed

If you believe you have fallen victim to a moving scam, take the following steps to address the situation.

  • Contact the moving company: Reach out to the moving company directly and attempt to resolve the issue. Clearly communicate your concerns and seek a satisfactory resolution.
  • File a complaint: If your efforts to resolve the matter directly with the moving company fail, file a complaint with the relevant authorities. This may include reporting the incident to the FMCSA, BBB or your local consumer protection agency. Provide them with all relevant details and documentation to support your case.
  • Seek legal assistance: If you have incurred significant financial losses or if valuable items have been stolen due to a scam, it may be prudent to consult with a lawyer. They can provide guidance on pursuing legal action and help you explore potential remedies.

By being vigilant, conducting thorough research and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to moving scams. Moving should be a positive and stress-free experience, and with the right precautions, you can ensure that your transition to a new home is smooth and secure.

Armstrong is here to make your move as stress-free as possible. As a full-service moving company, our team can provide everything from packing and storage services to moving and settling-in services. Get started today by requesting a free quote online.

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