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Blog July 9, 2021

The Worst Moving Scams to Avoid

Posted in Moving 101
Jane Davis

Apart from being a freelance writer and moving expert, Jane is also an art and museum lover.

According to the US Department of Transportation, over 40 million relocations occur every year. Considering the number, it’s surprising that the number of moving scams is not higher. Even though most of the relocation firms are genuine and professional, around 13,000 frauds occur each year on a federal level. Here are some of the most commonly occurring set-ups.

Name Changes Are Among the Most Common Long-Distance Moving Scams

When looking for long-distance movers near me, the first thing you can notice that might be a sign of a scam is the frequent name changing. Some legitimate companies may change their name and truck logos, but if they’ve done it multiple times over a short period, this should raise a huge red flag.

If you want to have a stress free moving experience and avoid getting scammed this way, here are some things you can do:

  • Ask the movers to provide you with a copy of their business license.
  • Check to see if the license is at least six months old or if it expired.
  • Look if their name is the same as on the website.

Fake Online Brokers Only Need a PO Box and a Phone Number

There is a big difference between reputable cross country movers and online brokers. The most obvious difference is that a cross country moving company has a truck, while brokers don’t. Furthermore, state to state movers provide storage in their warehouses and train their employees to use various packing materials when taking care of your belongings. The scammers only need to register a post office box with a few phone lines. Before booking online, research the company’s history because once they lock in a customer, they shop the relocation to cheap low-end companies disregarding all customer’s requests.

warehouse Fraudulent companies often don't have storage services.

Low Valuation and Insurance Protection

When using interstate moving service, the provider assumes some liability for the value of transporting goods. There are full replacement value and alternative levels of liability, depending on the amount of money you want to spend on protecting your belongings. Ironing out all of the details before signing is essential. Never sign a blank contract, as the professional providers would never offer this. Read up on how to organize important documents at home to avoid this scenario.

Scammer Company Doesn’t Use the Right Tools to Protect Your Items

When moving across the country, it’s very important that all your furniture is handled correctly. Packing is an essential part of this, especially when packaging fragile items. If the mover doesn’t know how to pack a TV for moving or doesn’t use any supplies, there is almost certainly some kind of a scam going on. Here’s a video showing how scammers operate.

YouTube video

Best Movers Offer a Free Quote While Scammers Don’t

A long-distance moving company offers some kind of estimate after inspecting your current home. When moving cross country, it’s important to know that you can get charged more than the initial price estimate. This is reasonable since many people don’t realize how much stuff they have right off the bat. Federal law dictates that if the costs exceeded the original non-binding estimate by over 10%, you have 30 days before you’re required to pay that difference. If the potential mover doesn’t offer a free quote on the service and never even inspects the grounds before the move day, then it’s probably a scam.

Check how much your move would cost Free Quote

More Unexpected Costs at the End of Your Move

Last-minute moving might cost more than what you agreed on if you require additional unspecified requests. Not choosing the best time of the year to move can also lead to an increase in price. However, a fraudulent mover will unnecessarily and unjustifiably increase the cost of their transportation and packing service. This can only further increase your moving stress, so making a household inventory list can help you spot any discrepancies in the contract.

An unexpected cost increase can ruin your relocation experience.

Discrepancies in Estimated Weight

The most common scam is probably the low weight estimate. The scammer will purposefully start at low prices, then increase the cost later on. When moving interstate, relocation providers are required to weigh each customer’s shipment one by one. When you’re suspecting a set-up, check out some other company to do the estimates as well. Although nobody can correctly determine your belongings’ exact weight, the estimates should not diverge by more than 10%.

One common way to falsely increase the load is when the mover arrives with an almost empty gas container and then fills it before the weighing process. This can add up to 1,200 pounds on your shipment and increase the price substantially. To prevent this, you can ask the drivers to show you the truck fuel levels before loading the furniture. When you need to transport cars state to state, empty your fuel tank and make sure you get a reputable auto transport provider.

Moving Companies With Cubic Feet Estimates

When moving state to state, the relocation fees should be based on the transportation distance, additional requests, and the shipment weight. Price based on volume in cubic feet strongly indicates a moving scam, as experienced movers can load more goods into similarly sized storage vehicles.

man Inexperienced movers scam people with volume-based estimates.

What to Do If You Have Been Scammed by a Moving Company?

Unfortunately, you’ve been scammed, and you now wonder what’s the best course of action. Here are some things you can do, but remember that the next time you’re getting organized to move, you’ll know to avoid this.

Report any Issues You Experienced Related to Moving Services

No matter when you realize the service provider is a fraud, the best thing to do is report them. Even though this might not help you get your items back, it will stop the company from doing any more harm. File a report to your local authorities, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), or Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Spread the Word by Leaving a Detailed and Honest Review

After experiencing an unpleasant situation such as this, it’s ethically correct to warn other potential victims. Spreading all the information and experience online with a comprehensive, honest review is the most comfortable place to start.

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