7 Key Signs of a Scam Moving Company

By: Nik Watson Last Updated: May 13, 2024

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Learn to spot moving scams: review positive reviews, ensure insurance coverage, check associations, demand quality service and transparent contracts.

7 Key Signs of a Scam Moving Company

The packing, moving, and unpacking of your belongings during the relocating process can be chaotic, tiring, and stressful. On top of that, the fear of losing your money and belongings to fraudulent moving firms can prove to be the worst of nightmares.

This has emerged as a serious concern among movers lately. The Better Business Bureau has listed as many as 163 moving companies as ‘F’ grade companies which bears testimony to the fact that you need to be cautious while dealing with them.

However, keeping your eyes open and being vigilant can save you from disappointment. Here are some of the biggest risk factors that must be avoided while hiring a moving company for your relocating pursuit.

1. Lack of License and Insurance

The biggest sign of an illegitimate moving company is that it won’t have a license or insurance. The registered, legitimate companies cannot work without obtaining these documents from regulatory bodies. If a moving company is unable to present these documents, it is a big red flag you must not deal with them.

A company that is licensed has undergone a rigorous inspection to make sure it is professional enough to handle your stuff safely and move it without any damage. For utmost precaution, you can select from those companies only that are registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Similarly, the insurance certificate covers the risk in case of any damage to your belongings during transit and at the time of loading and unloading.

Hence, to keep on the safer side and avoid any kind of loss, you must ask for these two important documents from your moving company. Reluctance in presenting these documents on the part of the company should be seen as a serious concern.

2. No Physical Address or Office

A legal, legit moving company rarely operates online only. The moving companies always have a physical office where the meetings with the clients are held and where the vehicles are parked and necessary equipment is kept.

If a moving company insists on dealing only through phone and doesn’t provide the location of a conventional physical office you need to be suspicious about their commitment and legitimacy. There is a strong probability that such companies can be a scam.

It is always advisable, rather strongly recommended that you take some time out to visit the office of a moving company before closing a deal with them. Have a look at their equipment and vehicles if possible and ensure that they have a proper physical presence.

Besides, meeting a company’s team will give you an idea about how professional they are and whether or not they can be relied upon with your precious belongings.

Meeting them in person will also help them address all of your concerns. Hence, always try to deal with only those moving companies who are not hesitant in sharing their whereabouts and who welcome you to their physical workplace, addressing your concerns and discussing everything in detail.

3. Requesting Large Deposits Upfront

Another sign of a scam moving firm is that they usually demand a high advance deposit before offering any service. In most cases, legitimate companies also require you to deposit a part of the agreed amount in advance. However, this is always a very small part of the total payable amount and is necessary to build trust and close a deal.

Fraudulent companies, on the other hand, might ask for either the full amount in advance or a big portion of it, without starting the moving process.

This should be looked upon with suspicion as the company might just be a scam and may not provide any services at all once they have received the payment.

It is a prerequisite of a legitimate deal to discuss and agree upon the payment terms beforehand and complete the required documentation for that. If the company maintains and persists that you pay a huge amount in advance, it would be better to go for some other moving partner and spare yourself of a continuous worry during the moving process.

4. Vague or Non-Binding Estimates

It is a usual practice of legitimate and renowned companies to not give their customers a final quote unless they have examined everything to be moved and evaluated all the costs of the process.

They would first have a look at the items to be relocated and provide a detailed breakdown of the costs to be incurred. After that, there will be a binding agreement on paper with your consent.

However, if a company provides you an estimate without enquiring about or examining the belongings, there are chances that they are a fraudulent company and are not committed to providing an above-board agreement.

The lack of transparency and providing unclear quotes without giving a breakdown should be taken as a big concern and it would be better to either avoid such firms or ask for a thorough, clear agreement that outlines all the costs.

5. Unprofessional Behavior

If you keep your eyes and ears open, even the behavior of a company’s staff can be a clear indicator of whether or not they are determined to keep their commitments and deliver the best services.

For example, the staff should be willing to answer all your questions and entertain all your concerns. If instead, they try to avoid taking up your reservations with a welcoming behavior, there can be a lack of commitment.

Similarly, overly persuasive marketing tactics that lack substance and professionalism can also be a sign that they lack sincerity. A professional moving firm would rather pay more importance to authenticity, staying above board, and gaining confidence through binding paperwork that assures their client about the company’s professionalism.

6. Poor Reviews and Reputation

One of the best ways to judge how serious a moving company is about its business is to look at its past performance. It always pays to ask around before you deal with a moving firm. Thorough research will save you from a lot of nuisance and disappointment at later stages.

Look for clients’ reviews on the company’s website and especially pay attention to whether there were any complaints by past clients which were not corrected by the company lately.

If there are repeated complaints by past clients over a similar issue, it would be better to have a discussion about it with the company’s representatives. If they have a valid excuse and are committed to avoiding such complaints, go ahead, otherwise, it’s never too late to look for other reputable companies with better reviews.

7. No Written Contract or Agreement

A company’s reluctance to provide a written and signed agreement before the relocation process starts is perhaps the clearest of all signs that you may end up dealing with a scam.

A reputed, professional company would be more than willing to legitimize their dealings with a written and signed agreement so that there is no question about their intentions and professionalism.

On the other hand, a company that is not sincere in its cause will avoid providing a legitimate, binding document. Don’t move forward with a company that isn’t above board and evades any sort of legal agreement. This can lead to serious problems later on.

Where relocating in itself is a chaotic and hectic process, avoid making it even more complicated by landing with the wrong moving partner. To ensure that the process moves smoothly and you can avoid any potential damages, always be assured that you’re dealing with the right people.

This can be guaranteed by checking the company’s license, keeping an eye on the behavior of their staff, always asking for a written contract, and avoiding making a huge upfront payment besides checking the market goodwill of the company. A rigorous research might feel like a hectic job, but in the end, it is worth it. Wish you a safe and happy relocating experience.