5 Red Flags That Indicate A Moving Scam


Don’t Get Taken Advantage Of By Your Moving Company

Moving can cause a lot of stress. There’s just so many things you need to take care of: packing all your belongings, canceling old services and setting up new ones, looking over and signing a number of documents, plus a whole host of other tasks that all need to get done within a limited time frame. Unfortunately, there’s another cause for worry that many people don’t think twice about until it’s too late: getting scammed by your moving company. From holding your items hostage to tacking on hidden fees, dealing with fraudulent movers will cost you more than just stress. To help you avoid this, here are a few red flags you should look out for when looking for a moving company. SEE ALSO: 6 Cheapest Packing Methods To Save You Money

1. Red Flag: Only Address Is A Dot Com

All legitimate moving companies have a physical, brick and mortar establishment. So, if you’re researching a moving company online and the only form of contact they provide is a website or email address, it would be best to skip that company and move on to the next contender.

Solution: Go By References

The best way to go about finding reputable movers is by word of mouth. Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers, or your real estate agent for any personal recommendations. If you still come up empty, check your local phone book for well-established companies. Once you’ve compiled a list of potential candidates, then you can continue your research online. Look at customer reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them. If you’re still a little unsure, ask for a list references and contact those references.

2. Red Flag: Unfounded Estimates

A big indicator that a moving company is trying to scam you is if the estimate they give you is quoted over the phone (sight-unseen), without a thorough walk-through of your home, or based on cubic feet. Rates should be based on mileage and weight for long distance moves, or by the hour if the move is local, and should not change. So, without an estimator coming by to evaluate the amount of belongings you have, their estimates are pretty much groundless. Some scammers do this to entice you with a low estimate so they can get your belongings in their truck before hiking up their price.

Solution: Ask For An On-Site Estimate

A good company will come to your home, evaluate all your belongings, ask about what’s going and what’s staying, and be open to discuss any questions. You’ll want to make sure to ask about other fees and policies they have to get a better idea of the eventual total cost. Remember, an estimate is not a guaranteed price since things often change by moving day, so being aware of possible charges beforehand is good to know. Once all questions and details have been worked out, get the estimate in writing with a date and signature from both parties. You’ll want at least three different estimates before deciding on a company.

3. Red Flag: Cash Up Front

Beware of any company that asks for a hefty deposit before touching a single box. Small deposits may be required to save a particular moving date, but a legitimate moving company won’t ask for large amounts up front since having your possessions in their truck acts as collateral already.

Solution: Keep A Paper Trail

In addition to staying away from movers that demand big deposits, you should also try to avoid using cash for your payment. Instead, use either a check or credit card. This will create a paper trail that can be easily traced in case evidence is needed for proof of your transaction. However, using cash to give as a tip is perfectly fine.

4. Red Flag: Shady Looking Movers

Although it’s said you should never judge a book by its cover, in this case, looks can indicate a lot. If the movers are wearing shirts with a different company name, or show up in a blank, inconspicuous truck, something might be up. Moving scammers often avoid getting caught by changing their name. So, if their company logo is missing or differs from the one you were given, chances are they aren’t who they say they are.

Solution: Ask For Some I.D.

When researching potential movers, make sure to ask for their credentials, licensing numbers, and insurance information. You can also contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ask about a company’s consumer history. On the day of your move, ask for their information again and make sure everything matches before loading anything in their truck. SEE ALSO: Safety Tips Ever New Homeowner Should Use

5. Red Flag: Incomplete Contract

Everyone knows you should never sign a blank or incomplete document, especially if it’s a contract. So, if a mover insists you sign anything that isn’t complete or is less than two pages, do not do it. You never know what scammers will add or fill in after they’ve gotten your signature.

Solution: Fill In The Blanks

Always make sure the contract you sign is filled out and complete. A moving contract, or Bill of Lading for those moving to a different state, should clearly list:
  • The company name and contact information
  • Your contact information
  • Date of pickup and delivery
  • Terms and conditions of payment, including minimum and maximum charges
  • Information on possible additional charges
  • Insurance information
  • A non-binding or binding estimate
  • A detailed inventory list
Also, if you’re unsure about something or don’t agree with what’s listed on the contract, speak up. You are trusting this company with all of your possessions, so you’ll want to be completely comfortable about everything before doing business with them. Being aware of these warning signs will hopefully ease much of the worry that comes with picking a reputable moving company. If you want to avoid the stress completely, there’s always the option of renting a truck and moving yourself. If you don’t have the required man power to do the work yourself, you can even hire a company to pack your boxes and load them into the truck for you. Either way, make sure you research all your options before making your move.
Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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