HOW TO AVOID MOVING SCAMS
There is a lot of excitement when you move to a new city. There are new friends to make, new restaurants to check out and new adventures.
But the decision to make the move is not easy. You want everything to go as planned. Boxes are soon packed and everything is in place. You have thought of everything to make this journey a success. When you arrive at your new home, there is one surprise you don’t want — the realization that the moving company is holding your items hostage trying to negotiate a new price.
Each year, more than 40 million Americans make a move and it’s no wonder that thousands of them are part of a moving scam that could cost you $10,000 or more.
The Better Business Bureau receives 13,000 complaints each year about moving companies that range from bad experiences to overcharging and financial scams.
Protecting yourself against a moving scam starts long before the first dish is wrapped. It’s about knowing what to look for that will determine how successful this move to a new life will be. Here are some things to research before hiring a moving company:
LOOK AT THE REVIEWS
We all know when picking a restaurant that a review can tell us a little about what to expect. We also know that many of those reviews are not real and can make a place look good or bad based on a few words of someone we don’t even know.
Looking at reviews of moving companies is a good place to start before you hire someone. Forbes Advisor at forbes.com is a website to start your research that looks at some of the best moving companies in the United States. They not only look at kinds of moving companies, but how to find the right one with topics like budget, a timeline for the move and customer happiness. These are great places to start to avoid being the victim of a moving company scam.
Consumer Affairs also is a good website to check out for ratings.
WHAT IS A MOVING BROKER AND WHY ARE THEY BAD NEWS?
This may be a new term for someone making a move for the first time. A broker is a company that arranges the transportation of your items and they hire the people to do the move. This is one of the biggest signs of a moving scam! When you hear stories about moving companies needing money up front, it likely involves a moving broker. When you hear about a nightmare move where the person moving had to pay more money (like a ransom) to get their things off a moving truck, it likely is because they partnered with a moving broker. NEVER use a moving broker!
GETTING A GOOD PRICE
If any mover phones-in an estimate for the cost of the move and does not come to your home, this should be a red flag that something is not right.
Moving often is not only based on the items, but the weight of them.
A scam often may involve a company that has good placement on the Internet, but never shows up to your home to look at things before giving a quote.
Some things to look out for:
- The moving company does not accept credit cards and requires payments that will be direct deposit or cash.
- A scam also may request a large deposit before the move.
- They are not registered with the FMCSA.
- They offer an instant quote.
- They have too many unresolved complaints or no reviews at all.
MOVING COMPANY SCAMS
In 2019, the FMCSA received 4,780 complaints about moving scams. And 57% of those complaints involved the moving company overcharging the customer. It also is believed that only 10% of all scams are even reported. Because we are an agent of National Van Lines, we adhere to every FMCSA policy to make sure you get the move you deserve!
What are some basic scams to look for:
- The bill is altered that details the items that are being moved.
- The moving company gives you a low estimate to lure you in and then withholds your items until you pay a significant amount of money more than agreed upon.
- Assigning a fraudulent weight or volume to the items. This could be easily done since most of us don’t know how heavy that couch really is.
- Falsifying the number of packing materials used.
What is not a scam:
- Minor damage to some items.
- Delivery delays of a few days.
- Some increase in the cost of the move.
CHECKING YOUR MOVERS CONTRACT
The most important thing to remember when you hire a moving company is to get everything in writing. And read all the fine print. Do not sign anything if you do not know what you are signing in the contract.
The two most important things to understand for your move are the estimates offered and the mover’s liability.
The FMCSA requires your mover to provide written estimates on everything that will be shipped, according to fmcsa.dot.gov.
The first option is full replacement value protection that will cost more at the time of the move.
The second is a waiver of full replacement that costs you nothing. It covers 60 cents per pound of the items. You should think carefully before choosing this agreement. A small item valued at $1,000 would only get you a few dollars in return.
You also can hire a third party insurance company for the move.
GIVING A DEPOSIT
Any reputable mover will not ask for cash up front. When paying, always use a credit card when you can.
Here are a few common scams you should look out for when hiring a moving company.
- The name change. Some companies get around the Better Business Bureau by constantly doing business under a new name. To be safe, ask for three references. Be sure to get the name of the company they legally do business as.
- Packing costs: If you pack the items yourself, the mover often is not responsible for any damage that may occur. But if they pack the items, they will charge you for that cost. Best to talk with the company to see what is best for you.
- Extra fees. If you are moving to the top floor of a condo, that may be an extra charge. Make sure that is in writing before anything is done.
- The weight. Make sure you have an accurate account of what the weight of items will be and there is no additional change.
WHEN TO FILE A COMPLAINT
If you feel like you have been charged too much or the items shipped are damaged or being held by the moving company, you should do these next steps:
- File a complaint with the moving company.
- Report the moving company to the FMCSA. They operate within the US Department of Transportation.
- Contact your local state agency.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES WHEN YOU MOVE
Your mover is responsible for the delivery, handling and storage of your items. But you also have a responsibility. Here is a look at what you should do:
- Be available at the time of pickup and delivery of your items.
- Make payment agreed upon.
- You must promptly file claims of damage, loss or delays with the movers.
- Notify your mover if something has changed.
- Read all moving documents from the mover.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS
The key to a successful move is to do your research and find a reputable mover you can trust. Click here to find movers in our network at National Van Lines! Las Cruces Moving & Storage is one such reputable mover. When you partner with us, you are partnering with a proven moving company backed by National Van Lines. Click here for your free moving quote or call us at (800)527-6821. Moving to California this summer? Check out the summer California moving guide!