Moving in general can be a big change for many people. Thus, avoiding a potential moving scam and fraud has become a key concern for thousands of the millions moving each year. With the fierce competition in the moving business, numerous moving companies low-ball their move estimates just to get the deal and these are the ones the customers should be worried about. Therefore, despite the fact that you are looking for the best possible price for your relocation, don’t be lured only by the lowest rate, but take into consideration other factors. This is why we decided to cover the whole idea about avoiding moving scams and finding the best moving companies for your upcoming move, so you don;t get ripped off.
Where to Start When Looking for Movers?
Do your part and research some specifics about the moving company you’ve decided to use in order to ensure you are not wasting your time and money by being scammed. First of all, learn how to recognize rogue movers and spare yourself a stressful situation. Most moving companies are legitimate businesses, but in recent years, many complaints for scams have been received. The best defense to recognize the illegitimate ones is before they load your household goods. Find several moving companies and compare the rates and prices. That should give you a hint as to what to expect and is the offer you are getting a potential scam. As MyMovingReviews is a moving reviews website, we receive hundreds of scam reports and rip off stories annually. These are our findings on how to stay on the safe side and be protected.
Avoid Moving Scams – How TOs
Here is how to prevent moving scams by researching and asking the right moving questions in advance.
- Typical scammers usually give you a low estimate price over the phone and promise to get the job done in a very short period of time, which makes you feel that you’ve got a bargain. This is one of the most popular moving scams to avoid. The good thing is that you can detect this immediately at your first interaction with the moving company which means you can recognize it right away, hang up the phone and move on to the next company.
- They also may demand cash only payment or a large money deposit. Most scammers demand cash only. Usually a deposit would be about 10% to %20 – so beware of a possible scam scheme if the percentage in your case is significantly larger. If you pay by cash you cannot dispute the charges with your credit card company. In most cases the movers can’t be reached once your items are delivered.
- Another sign to look out for a scam is if the movers don’t have a website – a standard company asset in 21 century – or there is a site, but without any information about licensing or insurance. It is required by law that all moving companies have their DOT number listed visible on their website. This is the government’s way to ensure that people who move will be using the services of a licensed company and to prevent moving scams. Ask your mover about their licensing information and check them with the Department of Transportation. Do not deal with unlicensed movers as there is a great change of becoming a victim of a scam scheme.
- They also should give you a copy of your “Rights and Responsibilities” booklet required by Federal regulations. This booklet includes basic information you should be aware of.
- Most of the reputable moving companies should have their own branded company trucks. Demand moving with a company owned vehicle and not a rental or unsigned vehicle.
- Read moving reviews, ratings and consumer reports before booking. By reading other peoples’ testimonials and complaints online you will be prepared and know which company provides better moving services. By checking out some reviews you will also know what unfortunate scamming situations other people have been to and how you can beware and be careful for these not to happen to you.
- It is a good idea to deal with BBB certified movers.
Red Flags when Choosing a Mover
Here are some tips to look for when selecting a moving company and how to distinguish the good from the bad companies. These are some of the things that most companies specializing in moving scams often do:
- When you call the mover, the telephone is answered with a generic “Movers” or “Moving company”, rather than the company’s name.
- The movers demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
- On moving day, a rental truck (usually a Ryder, Penske or a Budget truck) arrives rather than a company-owned and marked fleet truck. Note that sometimes even the large reputable companies hire rental trucks, but this usually is only in the busy summer months. This should not worry you once your moving company is well checked and you are sure you can rely on it for your move.
- The moving company website does not offer information about licensing or insurance as they are required to do so by law. This is one of the most obvious signs for a potential scam you can easily spot.
- They have only good reviews (written by employees) or only bad reviews (written by dissatisfied customers). Yes, rogue moving companies can be very industrious in their scam plans.
- You are asked to sign blank pages in your Bill of Lading on the moving day – legitimate movers would never ask you to sign blank pages.
- You are being denied a full value protection plan for your expensive items. Professional local and cross country moving companies should offer you multiple insurance options for your load.
Consider Federal, State and Local Organizations
Consider Federal, State and Local organizations involved in and overlooking the moving business. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FACSA), of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) partners with Federal, State and local associations and agencies to ensure that the costumer has the required information about the moving industry and how to prevent move scams. It is important that you know which are these agencies and moving associations that you can turn to in case you need to file a complaint or have questions. You can always Google them or here are some suggestions:
- The moving company you have chosen is not only licensed and insured, but a member of association that has established certain standards promoting fair business. Such a company will want to keep its reputation so it is not very likely to expect scam from it.
- It is always good to verify if they are BBB accredited business.
- If they are a member of the American Moving and Storage Association.
According to Wikipedia, there are only about 20 people employed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (which is part of the US Dept. of Transportation) to patrol the thousands of moving companies. That is why you should avoid getting scammed at all costs. For more information on moving associations, you can refer to our moving associations information article.
What to do to protect yourself
- Make photos of your stuff (especially the expensive furniture pieces) – just in case make sure you photograph all the valuable items you have in the house to be moved. In case you decide to go to court, you will have evidence.
- Make photos of the movers and their trucks. See if your items will travel in the same truck.
- Demand a copy of the contract – this is extremely important. Make sure you never sign blank papers. Usually this is an apparent evidence and a clear signal to avoid a moving scam.
- Dispute credit card charges in case you think you are being scammed.
- Write a review and a rip off report on the mover here.
- Contact the Department of Transportation and file a complaint with them.
- Write a BBB complaint.
- Contact an attorney to handle your case. Make sure you collect enough evidence.
People say education and information bring about change, thus be ready that the moving business is a complicated matter and you have to be aware of your rights and responsibilities in order to be protected from scam. You can also check the Protect Your Move government website for more relocation information.
Did you get scammed by a moving company in the past? Did this post help you prevent getting ripped off? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Posted on May 9, 2011; Last updated: Oct 15, 2014
Topics: Paperwork & Regulation