It is a wonder that most of the 40 million-plus moves that happened every year completed smoothly, according to the USDOT.
However, there has been a steady increase in the number of complaints against moving companies over the past years, so you will be doing yourself a great favor to figure out the ways rogue moving companies can scam you.
A study recently released by the Better Business Bureau shows that they receive about 13,000 complaints about moving companies annually.
The best way to protect yourself against a moving scam is by researching each phase of the move.
Take some time to get yourself familiar with these under-listed common types of moving scams to protect your money, items, and nerves during your move into the new home.
1. Name Changes
A company that changes its name more often is an indication that it has a rough past. In some cases, legitimate movers do make changes to their van line affiliations as well as names. That is not a problem, but if the company has done it more than five times, this should be a warning signal.
Sometimes, a company only needs to dissociate itself from its shady past by changing its name and repaint its moving trucks if it owns one.
You may also ask for a copy of a company’s business license.
- Is it below six months?
- Has it expired?
- Is the name different from the name shown on their website? If yes, ask why.
If you are not convinced with the answers, go with your instincts, and consider another company. After all, there are many out of state movers that have been tested and trusted to be legitimate.
2. False References
You may be fast at requesting references from the moving companies you are researching, but a lot of them have devised a means to give fake references. They just design a website with fake testimonials written by their workers or paid writers using fake names and use that to attract many potential customers.
So, don’t just trust the references.
Request for many references from real people; contact each of them in person to obtain the details of their moving experience. You can also check AMSA, the BBB, Yellow Pages, Moving Feedback and many other sources to research moving companies apart from their websites.
3. Poor Attention to Detail
After putting together a list of your potential state to state moving companies, you will want to call them one by one. If you are on their website and there is no phone number on it, you may want to check the next company on your list.
Non-reputable movers want your contact details but don’t want you to have theirs. If you’ve chosen the right company and have spoken with an actual person, they will want to know what your move entails are.
- The location you are moving from and to,
- Your home or apartment’s size,
- Your time of the move are all vital information.
However, the company should recommend sending a company agent to your home to give an accurate moving estimate. If the company is giving you different figures and is not ready to arrange an in-home appointment, it is a great signal that you may be scammed.
4. Not offering Insurance Coverage or Valuation
It is required of accredited moving companies to provide insurance valuation protection. They are responsible for the value of your household belongings.
However, there are certain factors to note here. For instance, moving companies might have the right to replace the present value of your used belongings, but not a new version of it.
Before you enter a contract with the company, ask them for full value protection or another level of liability. Some movers may offer a certain percentage of the cost of the item but not the whole price.
5. Very Low Estimate
Some moving companies will offer you a moving estimate you wouldn’t be able to resist to lure you into signing a contract with them. Immediately they receive the deposit, you may not hear from them never again. Or suppose they show up on the pick-up date.
In that case, they will surely ask for a higher amount than the previously agreed cost, giving you many conditions they can overlook, additional services, unexpected situations, and so on.
You need to make careful and apple to apple comparison of the whole estimates and consider all other essential information you discovered to make an informed decision and get the best moving companies.
6. They requested Deposit
Reputable moving companies will NEVER ask for cash or any large deposit before they move you. Payments are generally expected upon delivery. If you pay in advance, you have no control over when your goods will arrive at the destination location.
However, when you pay, use a credit card that will enable you to dispute any fraudulent activity.
7. Extra Fees
Extra moving services offered by a moving company are not added to the estimate automatically. Take note of this important factor – ensure that all the services you requested are all included in the Bill of Lading and verify their charges and the conditions under which the services will be performed.
Dishonest moving companies may purposely do different unimportant services to take all your money or give you silly reasons for higher additional charges.
8. Weight against Cubic Feet Estimates
If you are moving out of one state into another, your moving estimate should be charged on mileage, extra services requested, and the weight of your household items.
If you got a moving estimate from a moving company based on cubic feet instead of shipment weight, it could be an indication of a scam. They may be able to justify it with reasons like charging based on the level of space used on the moving van being reasonable.
Though you might think it is reasonable, I suppose you might be wrong, and here is why.
If your household belongings can be loaded into 1,000 cu-ft. of space by an experienced driver, why will loading by an inexperienced driver that uses 1,300cu-ft space be charged more? That makes no sense.
Ensure the moving company that provides you an estimate in cubic feet is reliable if you plan to hire.
9. The Blank Contract
This may seem too obvious but do not ever sign a blank contract, regardless of the likeness you have for the mover. Make sure everything you receive is provided in writing.
Your moving estimate and additional services should be included, as well as the dates for your pickup and delivery. Go through your contract from top to bottom and ensure that all your household goods are listed.
Don’t just go with a moving box that is just listed as kitchen wares unless you verify the packing with the right items. If there is no laptop on the inventory form you sign from your mover before the driver departs, then expect it not to be in the box during delivery. And filing a claim for an item that doesn’t appear on the inventory list is not possible.
10. The Guaranteed Quote
There are two types of moving contracts according to federal law. A non-binding moving estimate indicates that the overall cost of the move may exceed or below the original estimate.
This is widely accepted since customers usually add goods and services at the final minute that automatically increases the moving cost.
However, if over 10% is added to the actual costs, moving companies cannot request payment on the spot. They will only get the estimated cost during delivery, while the rest can be paid within 30 days.
A binding moving estimate is a guaranteed price, but it is charged on the actual weight, quantity of inventory items, and required services on the original moving estimate.
Note that you may still be required to pay extra charges if you move more belongings than agreed or need extra services from the mover.
Before you book your move, request for a simple contract and go through every word of it.
Scammed? What you should do
So what do you do next if you are a victim of a moving scam?
Find out how you can get the issue resolved with the moving company. Verify your contract to ensure you are doing the right thing.
There are moving companies that are owned by a larger business or a distant owner. If you couldn’t find the owner’s contact information on the website, check it out on LinkedIn to resolve the issue directly.
If all these attempts fail, go ahead and file a complaint through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA)’s Consumer Database or contact them on 888-368-7238.
Moving is a stressful engagement, but falling victim to a moving scam can be prevented. With much research and smartness, your upcoming move can be successful and hassle-free.
The best way to avoid moving scams is to hire a trusted long distance movers for your move.