If you’re in the process of moving, chances are you have your hands full. Between switching utilities and packing everything you own in boxes, falling victim to a scam is the furthest from your mind.
While you may be thinking you’re too savvy to be duped, moving company scams are more common than you think.
According to the Better Business Bureau, over 13,000 mover complaints are filed each year. And it’s estimated that fewer than 10% of victims report fraud to BBB and law enforcement — so instances of mover scams may be greater than what statistics represent.
To protect yourself from mover fraud, it’s best to know which red flags to look for. In this guide, we show you how to spot a corrupt moving company and ways you can avoid getting scammed.
Moving Company Scam Red Flags
Moving can be stressful but don’t forget to look out for these red flags for moving company scams:
A legitimate moving company will never require a deposit. You typically pay after the movers deliver your belongings — these terms are often outlined in a contract.
When you do pay, be sure to use a debit or credit card — never use cash. Doing this allows you to easily file a complaint if you need to.
Bait and Switch Estimations
A common moving fraud scheme is estimation bait and switch. This happens when a company gives you a super low estimate over the phone or online.
Once your valuables are packed on the truck, they demand a much larger amount than initially agreed upon. They will refuse to deliver your belongings unless you fork out the money.
When looking for moving companies, ensure that you get an in-person evaluation. During the evaluation, beware of an estimator that doesn’t ask questions or take notes.
Based on the evaluation, they should give you a reasonable quote that takes into account how many items are being packed and moved.
Keep your eyes peeled for contracts that are complicated or difficult to understand. Moving companies may purposefully draft vague or incomplete contracts to manipulate people into signing something they usually wouldn’t agree to.
When going through moving company contracts, take your time and look over things like guaranteed price, delivery date, supplies, and list of items. As an added layer of security, consider having a lawyer look over the contract for you.
If something seems unclear, don’t hesitate to ask questions. If the movers decline your question or avoid giving you a straight answer, cross them off your list.
A moving company with many names can’t be trusted. This is a tactic to throw off prospective customers and get around negative reviews.
Fake reviews are easier to spot than you think. Reviews that are too positive and loaded with superlatives are usually fake.
For example, you should be suspicious of reviews like, “these are the best movers in the industry” or “they offer the best service ever”.
Also, be aware of reviews that are too descriptive. Genuine reviews will provide relevant details and facts about the service. Fake ones will ramble one and include unimportant information.
Legitimate moving companies will register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. To check a company’s credentials, conduct a search using the Department of Transportation’s DOT tool.
They Don’t Mention Your Rights and Responsibilities
Movers are required by federal law to supply a packet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” for out-of-state moves.
Protect Yourself From Moving Company Scams
If you’re having issues with a rogue moving company, enlist the help of MoveRescue — a help center established by major moving companies. It provides free help for anyone having problems with a scammy mover.
We know moving can be overwhelming, but take the time to choose your moving company carefully. Doing extra research and taking precautionary steps will save you a headache later.