How to Avoid Moving Scams or Frauds

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How to avoid Moving Scams or Frauds - Moving Feedback

Moving scams may come in different ways and whichever way they come, they are everyone’s nightmare. There are different types of moving scams out there – Imagine you entrust all your properties to a moving company, only to see your belongings held hostage until you pay an additional charge as against your agreement with them. Or a moving company scams you through their liability insurance coverage against what the law stipulated.

Finding the right moving company to handle your move can be sometimes challenging, considering many unqualified and unlicensed movers that have found their ways to the industry. This has affected the industry significantly and something must be done to rescue the situation.

Studies have shown that many of these scams are penetrated by fraudulent con-artists aiming to take advantage of innocent consumers who lack in-depth knowledge about how moving works.

Getting scammed can be a terrible situation that costs you unnecessary stress, time, and money. As one of the rated moving company review sites, Moving Feedback strongly dislikes seeing anyone gets scammed; hence, we have come up with a number of ways to avoid moving scams or frauds as much as possible. This post will discuss tips to avoid moving scams that may come your way.

7 Tips to avoid Moving Scams:

Avoiding moving scams largely depends on you as a consumer. The point is, if you don’t run to these fraudulent moving companies, they can’t force you in. Proper planning and research before moving is the answer. In your research, you would discover the right mover for your move and have knowledge of what should be contained in every legitimate moving contract. Below are some useful tips to avoid moving scams as much as possible:

1. Choose a reputable moving company

Your first step to avoid moving scams is to choose a reputable mover with proven track records of successive deliveries. Such a moving company has a reputation to protect; hence, you are guaranteed fair treatment and quality service delivery in their dealings. A reputable mover will not dip their hands in any moving scams for fear of losing reputation and credibility they have built over the years. Most reputable moving companies are bonded by insurance coverage and might have had successful moves to refer to. Follow our steps to choosing a reliable moving company.

2. Avoid booking mover at the eleventh hour

Under normal circumstances, every reputable mover is expected to be busy most times, and booking them at the last minute may be difficult. Most reputable moving companies usually recommend that consumers call for quotes at least a month upfront or more especially during summer or spring, which are their peak months. You may fall a victim of scammers who are versed at taking advantage of last-minute and desperate consumers who didn’t plan or are distracted by the stresses of relocation. The solution here is planning, planning, and planning.

3. Be suspicious about low-rate price quotes and ambiguous contracts

Scammers usually come up with low moving price quotes (especially over the phone) to lure consumers to their side, so they can have their way to scam them. When you first call them, they will give you irresistible low quotes with a shady contract offer, but jack-up the final price on moving a day or before delivery; hence, they hold your belongings hostage and start bargaining for additional price. If the final bargain does not work fine with them, they may disappear with your belonging forever, especially if the customer threatens them with legitimate action. A reputable mover will offer (after inspection) free, no-obligation moving quote with a clear and detailed written contract that is customized for your moving needs.

4. Get recommendations from friends and previous consumers

A trustworthy moving company will not strive to generate positive feedbacks and ratings from satisfied customers, and they should be bold enough to give out contact details of their past customers. If a mover is avoiding this request, you need to back out of any negotiation with them immediately. You can also get some piece of information about their mode of operation on their website or social media pages. Friends and family members are also another sure way to get a recommendation of reputable movers.

5. Investigate complaints filed against them

This is another way to obtain helpful information about a mover. You can check those complaints filed against any mover with the Better Business Bureau, the American Moving and Storage Association, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. However, it is worthy of mentioning that it is reasonable that a reputable moving company has a few complaints because consumers are not the same and some people can be unsatisfiable. Ensure you check the nature of the complaints to draw your conclusion.

6. Beware of moving companies that request for full payment upfront

Any moving company asking for full payment up front should be avoided. A reputable mover will only require part-payment as a means to initiate the contract. A mover insisting on full payment for the service never rendered is a clear red flag of a scam. While most of these moving companies entice you with a great deal to request for full payment, the possibility is that these movers may not even exist or they may not show up as promised or disappear with your belongings after loading. Is that a kind of situation you hope for?

7. Use a credit card instead of cash

If at all a moving company request for partial payment upfront, ensure you use a credit card instead of cash. This is for security purpose in case of an issue. But if the mover insists on cash only, just look for another moving company; it is a sign of a scam.

The Following Table Displays Tips How to Avoid Moving Scams or Frauds:

No.7 Tips to avoid Moving Scams
1.Choose a reputable moving company
2.Avoid booking mover at the eleventh hour
3.Be suspicious about low-rate price quotes and ambiguous contracts
4.Get recommendations from friends and previous consumers
5.Investigate complaints filed against them
6.Beware of moving companies that request for full payment upfront
7.Use a credit card instead of cash

The Top 6 Moving Scams in the Moving Industry

The best way to avoid being moving scam is to be well-informed and getting your homework done at each phase. Although moving is hard, but you can’t leave the entire details in the hand of someone else. You should be aware of any scams that may come your way as you are planning your move.

Below are the things to look out for.   

#1. Hidden Moving Fees

Wait for the moving contract to be complete before you sign and allow movers to haul your household items. Rogue movers are well known for charging unexpected and/or uninformed packing, heavy lifting, climbing stairs, or extra weight fees at the last minute of the movie. When you see any of these signs, quickly turn off; since you at the point of signing the contract. 

#2. The Company changed Name Severally

If you discovered that the mover had changed its name several times, that is a warning signal. Moving companies with many negative customer reviews often change their names in an attempt to sway prospective customers into their nest. You can detect this when you go deep researching the company you are considering for the job

Pro Tip

Don’t sign any contract until you research the company and confirm the mover is reliable and has good reputation over time.

#3. Mover requesting for Advanced Payment

Make sure you know more about any fee being charged for your move before you sign a contract. A reputable mover will never ask you for a deposit before you can reserve your moving date. They will also not request your credit card details or cash deposit even during the loading of the moving truck. A credit card is usually requested when your load date draws closer.   

#4. Suspicious Moving Estimates

You should understand quotes or estimates that may come your way. Let’s highlight some of these estimates:

  • The too good bid: No legitimate moving company will issue you a moving quote that is surprisingly too low. Moving quotes are often referred to as estimates or bids in the moving world. Note that some important detail might be missing on a too low quote from a mover. Make sure you go through the complete detail of your overall costs before you decide to go for a low-cost moving contract. You may be charged unexpected costs after the movers have your items in their custody. A scam like this gets out of control when the mover refuses to deliver your belongings until you pay the full bill, which maybe double or triple the original amount.  
  • The one-price-fits-all quote:  Moving price is more comprehensive than just evaluating the cost of moving and delivery at the current and destination locations. Any mover offering one price for every move is a scam. A reputable moving company will determine your overall moving cost by considering your location, number of rooms, number of truck space required, as well as the weight of your stuff. Be cautious of any moving quotes that exclude important detail in calculating your moving costs.  
  • The in-and-out quote: Just like the previous one-size-fits-all quote, this particular bid will be given to you without the mover gathering enough information about your move just to win your long-distance move job. They will speed up the conversation and omit to price, and will also refuse to have a conversation about the moving service’s full terms until they packed up your entire household into their moving truck. This is when they usually change the price of your move. Your moving estimator is expected to take time to check each room in your home as well as your closets and ask questions about your moving strategies.   
  • The volume-based quote: Moving companies who based your long-distance moving quote on the cubit footage of your moving truck space and not weight should be avoided. Although this is acceptable for small-sized moves, long-distance relocation based on this assessment is considered to be illegal without using the weight of the shipment and thus be reported to the FMCSA on fmcsa.dot.gov/.

Watch out for moving agreements that are not completely carried out or contain ambiguous language that is hard to comprehend. Movers can come up with an incomplete or more complicated agreement in order to trick customers into signing off on what they wouldn’t agree to if they understand. Read through the contract carefully and check for the following terms:   

  • Guaranteed price
  • Delivery date
  • Supplies
  • Complete list of items

Don’t hold back on moving questions. There is no stupid question when it comes to your goods. You can’t trust any mover that refuses to answer your question or avoids giving direct answers to your questions. You should consult a legal practitioner to help check your contract if you are moving many expensive possessions. However, by carefully reading the terms, you can easily identify a legitimate contract. 

#5. The Blank Contract

You should be able to tell that this is a scam; however, do not give in to the temptation to sign a blank contract regardless of your love for the moving company. Let everything you sign be in writing. Your moving estimates, additional fees, pickup, and delivery dates must all be indicated on the contract. Go through your contract from the beginning to the end to see if any of your belongings is not listed.

Make sure you check everything they pack before they leave to be sure your items are in the boxes. If they didn’t include laptop computers in the boxes labeled, then you should not expect to see it in any box when your belongings arrive. There is no way your claim will be attended to if the item is not indicated on the inventory list.  

#6. Phoning it in

A mover that fails to request for an in-home inspection of your belongings before issuing you a moving estimate is giving you an assumed estimate, and those are usually surprisingly good. Remember, moving quotes are different from estimates. You tend to have an idea of your move through moving quotes. Generally, homeowners have more possessions than they think, and good moving estimators will not consider individual belongings or even bulk, they focus on weight.

Each household belonging comes with different weight and cannot be assumed until they are measured. Not only mileage can determine your moving price, but it will also involve the weight of the shipment and the number of space your items contained in the moving truck. 

Other Tips to protect yourself from Fraudulent Moving Companies

Knowing how you can protect yourself from rogue movers’ helps a lot. Follow these steps to reduce the possibility of being scammed drastically.

  • Make payment with a credit card: There is insurance on credit card payment against any ugly issue. You can’t get your money anymore once you get scammed after making cash payments. 
  • Verify licensing: Use the United States Department of Transportation’s tool to know the registration status of the company you want to pick for your interstate move. 
  • Know the terms and conditions: Go through your moving contracts and get a full understanding of the details. Check the agreed pickup and drop-off dates. There should also be clarity on how the mover determines your charges. 
  • Document everything: After delivering your items, you are given the grace of just 9 months to report any issues to the movers and file a written claim for damage or loss to your items. Indicate any problems on the moving company’s copy of the items list before you sign. Your moving company also has 30 days to acknowledge they receive your claim. They have to make an offer of whether to pay or deny your claim within 120 days. They can easily deny your claim if you do not have a proof before and after or if the damage is not shown to them before they depart your home. 
  • Ask questions: Ask a question in the event of any confusion. Legitimate moving companies are always ready to help. Locate another moving company if the one you are considering is pushing you back for asking too many questions. 
  • Avoid signing a blank or partial check: Make sure everything you sign is comprehensive. Get a full understanding of every detail of your contract before you sign and always remember to ask questions. 
  • Don’t allow your items to be loaded into an unmarked moving truck: An unmarked moving truck can be a sign of a scam. Rogue movers will either steal your belongings or hold them and ask for ransom. Don’t ever allow loading your stuff onto unknown moving truck.
  • Make planning: No reputable moving company will ask you to pay upfront except you are to use credit card payment. Take to your heel when any moving company asks you to make a deposit before the move. Continue shopping for movers if you find a moving company that requests for deposit.
  • Understand your rights and responsibilities: Any licensed moving company is required by the federal law to give a packet name Your Rights and Responsibilities when you relocate to every one of their consumers at the planning level of their move. This information is accessible on most of the reputable movers’ website or just give you a 25-page booklet which contains industry regulations, fair practices, and consumer rights.   

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my mover won’t deliver my stuff?

Any mover that refuses to deliver your belongings after receiving 100% of the binding quote or 110% of the non-binding quote has breached the Federal regulations for the safety of residential belongings movers. You should call 1-888-DOT-SAFT or file a complaint online on www.nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/NCCDB/Home.aspx.  

What if my moving company disappears with my stuff?

You should call 1-888-DOT-SAFT or file a complaint online. You may also contact the office of the state attorney general or appropriate law enforcement agency in your area. 

What if my mover inflated the agreed moving price?

You are not allowed to pay beyond 110% of the non-binding estimate and 100% of the binding estimate if the moving company inflated the moving price after loading the moving truck. The mover can only charge you any additional fee after 30 days of delivery of your items. 

Is there something like a moving broker?

A moving broker is different from a moving company. A moving broker is not responsible for, and cannot transport your household belongings. Brokers do not possess a moving trucks expert movers. Interstate moving brokers are only allowed to use only moving companies that are registered with FMCSA.

Moving brokers are typically sales teams that make a reservation for your move and sell it to an actual mover. Sometimes, the broker finds it hard to sell the moving job due to reasons like availability, low quotes, resources, and so on. 

This situation can leave you without a moving company on your moving day — the majority of relocation broker work from call centers situated across the country. Make sure you ask your preferred company if they are actually moving your items or a broker.

For instance, XYZ moving is a moving company located in your area and have an actual office and staff that can assist you with any issue that arises on your move. To confirm this, verify that the company operates using its own moving and trucks to pick up your belonging.   

What is the meaning of a Moving Broker Checklist?

Moving broker schedule transportation by bringing those who need to transport their household items to another place together with a reputable and capable moving company that will handle the job perfectly for compensation.

Although the broker doesn’t drive the moving truck or coordinate the transportation of goods, they do create all the schedules for the moving truck and labor to load and unload items. Brokers can help motor transporters provide estimates based on the rates in the tariff of the motor carrier.

Consumer protection has been given strength by FMCSA when you use a broker to schedule for the hauling of your household possessions. All moving brokers must:    

  • Be FMCSA registered;
  • Give you the FMCSA booklet titled Your Rights and Responsibilities when you Move and a brochure titled Ready to Move
  • Use only FMCSA registered movers
  • Give you a list of the movers they use
  • Have a written contract with their movers
  • Base their estimate (binding or non-binding) on the rate of the moving company that will haul your belongings
  • Indicate their MC Number, their brokering status (not transporting your belongings but get a company that does), and physical business location on their advertisements.
  • Make sure an in-house survey is carried out by their mover if they are located within a 50-mile radius to the moving company or its franchise. You can choose to slip this requirement under the carpet. 

Use our search tool to determine if your mover or broker is registered with FMCSA or check their complaint history. 

In what way does the complaint process work?

Your complaint will be supplied into the National Consumer Complaint Database of the FMCSA and will be further used for statistical and analytical purposes. Your complaint will also be managed in the mover’s file as part of its business record. You may be called to provide other information and paper works if the FMCSA is ready to investigate your claim and take action against the moving company or broker.  

Conclusion

Scams do exist in every industry. Moving scams have been living with us for more a decades now, and people are now sensitive to discover them as they show up. By hiring a moving company, you systematically welcoming unknowing people into the home; hence, you must be extra careful from being a victim of moving scams.

Fortunately, there are numerous reputable and trustworthy moving companies out there to select from. This post has shared helpful tips to avoid moving scams as much as possible. Just follow all our posts on this page and you are guaranteed a successful move. Stay tuned for a more informative post from this page!

Thomas Campbell
Thomas Campbell
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
Thomas Campbell
Thomas Campbell
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

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