There is nothing worse than getting tricked for your money, and even worse if it’s a ludicrous amount that means a lot to you, such as your life’s savings. Moving scams happen so often that by now, they’re the thing everyone writes and warns others about as soon as they announce a move. It doesn’t have to be that tragic, though, as you can now learn about typical cons and avoid them before it gets too late.
Trusting others to do the right thing and their jobs has become harder but not impossible. There are excellent local and long-distance movers out there that will help you not only relocate without problems but make you trust people again, too. Still, it’s a good idea to get some information based on typical moving company scams because telling everyone you got conned during the long-awaited move for love isn’t the greatest relocation announcement.
What Are Some of the Most Common Moving Scams?
Among so many questions about moving fraud, there is the most important one: How do I know if a moving company is legit? There are many, many ways to check, but based on many sources, five things scam artists typically do can be spotted immediately and save you from making one of the first relocation mistakes, a lack of planning.
#1 Asking for a Deposit
This is probably the easiest way to spot fraud because no reputable organization will ever ask you to pay in advance, whether in cash or by credit cards. Regular long-distance moving experts typically provide pricing information by devising a contract. Talk of money doesn’t come before estimating the size, weight, and distance of goods. If you’ve made a plan to save money for a move, frauds will likely tell you there’s no room for saving when it comes to relocating, which isn’t necessarily true.
#2 Being Vague About Services
Experts wouldn’t be vague about any parts of the relocation process. Hidden fees and sudden price jumps don’t happen with them because the very reason anybody hires expert movers is so everything is said and done clearly. Additionally, you can look up the organization meant to handle your move online. If they have an incomplete website, a lack of phone numbers or too many different ones, and no clear service descriptions, they are likely to trick you and delay your move to a new state.
For example, if you’re trying to move a piano to another location and the mover you’re talking to about it tells you things like “it’ll be okay, this is the estimate, we can do it no problem,” and ending it there – that’s vague and lacks details. A professional will ask you about the type of piano, weight, width, age, and the size of the room it’s sitting in because they need all that info for the transport. More importantly, a professional will more likely come to your home and write down the details by themselves.
#3 Giving Estimates Without Visiting Your Home
As already mentioned, long-distance moving services are provided in full detail, and they will often visit the home you’re leaving to estimate the size of the shipment. Additionally, there are items movers won’t move, and they have to tell you that before any relocation starts. They may also give recommendations on what not to pack, so you don’t waste time on it. After visual estimation comes the written contract with either a binding or non-binding estimate to pay.
A scammer will likely give estimates off the top of their head and tell you they’ll move everything. If you’ve packed the goods and they skip certain items after promising otherwise, you’ll not only feel scammed but probably sad, too. Now it seems packing that Persian rug was a waste of time, and there isn’t any nice decor at the new place, and the fragile items you boxed up don’t look as they used to anymore.
The continuous mention of in-house valuation means letting strangers into your household, which is OK when making friends in a new state and city or meeting new neighbors, but it might make you wonder – do movers steal your stuff? The straight answer is no, they don’t. Scammers might, though. If they do agree to come to the household and some belongings end up missing, cancel everything.
#4 Frequent Name Changing
This should seem the most suspicious of all the potential trickery out there. If the business you’re trying to book operates under various names, and they frequently change them on their website or contact info, that’s a reason for concern. Think of it from the perspective of explaining the business name to a friend. If it takes more than one name, sentence, or phrase to describe what they do, it’s not worth it because they’re very likely not legit.
#5 Moving Brokers
OK, so not all brokers are a scam, but many, so many still are. It’s understandable if you’re packing to move in a hurry, but don’t fall for just any service offered. Brokers are essentially the middlemen between you and the long-distance moving company. They offer relocation options without actually giving them, which means they often use the most convenient or cheapest options before verifying the goods.
Of course, there are legitimate brokers, but just like with movers, if there’s a lack of basic information that businesses have on their website or their phones mysteriously don’t even work, it’s time to skip and go elsewhere. In the same way, organizations that provide relocation only through a moving broker are likely to be scammers, and after the process, you end up relocating without any money.
How Do You Avoid Moving Scams? Some Tips To Follow
When relocating for the first time, it all seems scary, and you’d rather not get scammed. Luckily, you can spot red flags and get out on time, but it’s not always easy, which is why loads of people get conned in the first place. If you got tricked before, you might be careful when booking any service at all. You can read about the typical cons, but about ways to avoid them, too.
Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Scams
In order to avoid getting scammed while relocating, there are steps to take for properly vetting relocation businesses. Here’s the main list of advice to follow:
- The first tip that’s most recommended is to ask for referrals and recommendations from the people closest to you. If you have anyone close to you that’s moved or maybe even got tricked before, they’ll certainly talk in detail about the very con artists that got them. Even if they weren’t duped, their objective opinions could assist in deciding what’s best for your household. Take notes and listen carefully for advice from the people that love you.
- There are great websites with info on relocation companies and their legitimacy. One is called the Better Business Bureau or BBB for short, where all companies register their businesses, and anyone can check the legality of the businesses they hire. They also have a scam tracker. The other is the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, or FMCSA, the website for the relocation industry’s regulating body.
- If you’ve already booked someone, here’s another neat piece of knowledge that you should remember – licensed long-distance movers that visit you are under federal obligation to give you a brochure called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” The booklet is 25 pages of essential information about legal protection, industry rules and regulations, and customer rights.
- When making calls to the number provided, check how the person on the other side of the line answers. Reputable companies typically instruct customer service representatives to use the business’s full name first when answering the phone.
- Long-distance moving usually entails the companies having storage facilities. Long-distance moves can take a long time, and many require storage services. If the ones you call have storage at suspicious locations, in poor condition, or none at all, that’s a sign to run.
- When calling in, ask when someone in charge of the move would be able to come for an in-house valuation. If they say they don’t do those or give vague answers based on nothing, in particular, they don’t plan on giving realistic estimates of the price and could use the chance to con you.
- The organization’s name should be reflected in every aspect of the business, including the movers’ trucks. If they’re rentals rather than fleet trucks and not labeled as company vehicles, you might want to skip and do the move another day.
What to Do If You Have Been Scammed By A Moving Company?
If everything you’ve read above seemed like very legitimate reasons for concern, but a lot of them still happened to you, well, guess you got scammed. It’s OK if you did, though, since it can be hard to handle the stress of relocation along with every other aspect. Maybe there was no time to verify anything, and you went with convenience in the form of location or price, or perhaps it was the lack of experience causing you to make the call.
If you got conned, there are ways to try and repair the damage done. The first one would always be to complain to those that helped you move. A legitimate business doesn’t mind admitting its mistakes and could offer a refund or some kind of compensation. It’s good to communicate with them since the scam that happened to you may have been the work of someone in their midst, and you’ve helped them get to the root of it.
However, if they don’t want to deal with the complaints you put in, some organizations will. We already mentioned Better Business Bureau, which works hard to feature legitimate businesses and take care of any complaints. You can also complain to the federal administration FMCSA since they help correctly inform people on the legitimacy of transport companies.
As a last resort, bashing a business online, giving them negative reviews in abundance, or writing a lengthy social media status might give you relief from anger and stress, and it’s not a bad way to handle the fact that you got conned. Of course, trashing and bashing for no legitimate reason is a bit too much, so first, make sure the anger you’re feeling isn’t overreacting. You can look for others’ experiences to know you’re not alone, just like in the video below.
How to Choose a Reliable Relocation Company
This part mostly depends on the budget you’re willing to pay for the move. As mentioned before, any legitimate and reputable long-distance moving company will offer a free estimate, arrange an in-house valuation of your belongings, and provide a contract (that’s not blank) for you to sign after evaluating everything. You can book them any time for moving services, and if you need help with it, for packing services, too. The cheapest ways to move out of state could often lie in making a compromise with the movers you hire.
One great way to figure out who to book is by doing loads of research. Mainly, ensuring that you look at the reviews and experiences with the business is a great first step. Of course, more positive reviews mean they are more stable and offer reliable goods and services. While there are people who scam others, there are also those who help, too. The main thing is to follow your gut.
We undermine the importance of listening to our inner radar when making decisions. This results in loads of different mistakes, from not staying in when we’re sick to giving money to people we don’t trust. If anyone seems shady for whatever reason, skip and keep searching. It sounds silly and very childlike, but it’s genuine advice that works best.
If you’re more pragmatic and prefer to have facts laid out in front of you, then follow the advice you’ve just read and think of researching relocation companies as a duty rather than a tedious task. This approach helps to learn extra relocation hacks and more about specific periods, like relocating during winter or even the benefits of relocating during the holidays.