Moving can be daunting, especially when conducted without proper knowledge or precautions. There has been a significant rise in moving scams in recent years, adding another layer of concern. Whether recruiting local movers or ones from afar, it's crucial to be vigilant.
This article will equip you with essential techniques to make sure you don't fall victim to such scams when you're on the move. We'll cover tips for identifying red flags, advisable actions, and best practices in choosing trustworthy local movers. Be prepared, stay informed, and ensure your moving journey is scam-free.
Smart Tips To Avoid Moving Scams
Moving house is a complex process that can test your patience, energy, and finances. The success of your residential move depends on the organization of the move. Generally, the fewer mistakes you make when packing and moving, the more likely the move will go smoothly.
The quality of professional moving services you select should be outstanding, from the first contact with the mover to the smooth delivery of your goods to your new home or apartment. You're paying a lot to properly handle all your items: packed, carried into the moving vehicle and loaded, transported to the new home, unpacked/installed if necessary.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. It is possible to come into contact with a dishonest mover, especially if your research could be better. Moving fraud can be one of the most frustrating things to experience. This is why avoiding headaches and problems is important by learning to protect yourself against moving fraud.
This fraud prevention guide will help you to identify and avoid scams when moving. But first, you must understand how fraud in moving works.
What Is a Scam Involving Moving?
Moving scams are a general term that refers to fraudulent activities by moving companies to obtain more money from customers. Money is the main concern, so the more you know about moving scams, the better protected you are from moving company scams that could damage your budget.
What Are the Types of Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them
Below are the top 5 moving scams perpetrated by so-called “rogue” movers. Most importantly, learn how to avoid getting scammed.
1. Fake Moving Reviews and False Credentials
Since dishonest moving firms know how important it is to do initial research when looking for a mover, they encourage their employees to write glowing reviews about their company. These companies aim to fool more people into thinking they are top-rated moving companies when they are not.
What can you do to avoid this?
- You can ask your family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations of movers they've used before. This type of word-of-mouth advice is one of the most reliable references.
- You can read reviews on moving companies online from customers who have used the company. Be cautious of overly positive reviews.
- The moving company that you have chosen is a member of BBB (Better Business Bureau).
2. Two Low-Ball Estimates
Unrealistically low moving estimates are a common sign of fraud. Fraudulent movers often use this tactic to lure unsuspecting customers into a trap with false promises. Most rogue moving companies will give you estimates that are way off and often too good to believe. The final cost will be different from the low-ball quote you got.
Remember that low-ball quotes can also be given after an on-site survey. A moving company estimator who visits your house, performs a quick tour of the rooms, then quotes you a low-ball price without even asking you any questions and with only a casual glance at the items you are moving is likely to be acting suspiciously.
What can you do to avoid this?
- Estimates should only be accepted on the telephone or by e-mail. They can also be done in-house but must have been made quickly and without discussion or questions.
- Never agree to hire a moving company that refuses to inspect your household goods on-site.
- Request estimates from 3-4 moving firms for a solid comparison.
- If the moving company's estimate is lower than its competitors, ask why. Find another moving partner if you are still waiting for a satisfactory answer.
3. Goods Held Hostage
The worst scenario is that your goods are held hostage until you pay a ransom to regain your possessions. Even worse, if you have valuable or expensive items, your valuables could disappear, and the dishonest movers may not even leave a trace.
Both of these moving company scams are illegal. There are steps that you can take if you are a victim.
- How can you protect yourself against scams such as this? The best way to protect yourself is by preventing the scam. Research your movers, and you can avoid daylight robberies like the one described above.
- The first step in combating serious moving fraud, such as having your goods stolen or held hostage, is to contact the police. If it is an emergency, call 911.
- Contact the U.S. Department of Transportation via their 1-888-DOTSAFT (1-1-888-368-7238) hotline to file a complaint or visit their website to submit a Household Goods Consumer complaint.
4. Large Deposits
Reputable moving companies do not require large cash deposits or upfront payments. Most of the time, you will pay the moving company the agreed amount upon delivery. Be very cautious if the mover demands your money before delivering your items safely to your new house. This may indicate fraudulent activity.
Some respectable movers will require a deposit to secure your move date during peak moving season. You don't need to be alarmed once you have a mover you trust. The booking fee should be 10% -15 % of your final moving cost. However, the company must refrain from demanding you pay the deposit in cash.
How can you protect yourself from harm when moving?
- Don't pay money in advance to the movers.
- Use a credit card if you trust the company and are asked to pay a 10% deposit to secure the date. This way, you can dispute any payment made later.
5. Documents That Are Incomplete or Blank
When a moving day arrives, things can get (a little) chaotic. This is a fact that dishonest movers take advantage of. Who has the time to read through the moving documents when there are many more important tasks to complete and things to think about?
The scam of a moving company is to give customers blank or incomplete documents and ask them to sign. Never agree to this! You will not be able to control what conditions and prices are added. Your signature at the bottom means you've read and agreed to all clauses but need to know what is happening.
A rogue mover won't hesitate to commit document fraud. What can you do to stay safe?
- No matter how reputable your mover may seem, you should never sign incomplete or blank documents.
- All documents should be in writing, including your moving contract, estimate, inventory sheet, etc. Each document must be signed and stamped properly.
- Read the contract carefully. Also, read the fine print. Before you sign, make sure that you understand all the clauses. If you need help understanding a clause or need help figuring out how certain prices are calculated, ask for clarification.
- Be sure to pay attention to any additional services and their prices. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for.
- Check your inventory carefully and ensure that all of your possessions are included. You can only file a claim if an item is added to your inventory list.
Look for Red Flags to Identify a Rogue Mover
This guide to moving fraud prevention should provide enough information to avoid being scammed or having your move become a disaster. The best protection is still prevention, so you should learn to identify a fraud mover when they take possession of your valuable household items.
How can you identify a rogue mover and stay away from it?
- The moving company will not answer the phone using the company's name but instead use standard phrases like “Movers” and “Moving Company.”
- When you ask for an on-site inspection, the moving company refuses. They will instead give you a quote online or by phone without ever seeing your items. Unsurprisingly, the quote you receive will be extremely low to entice you.
- The mover will not give you an estimate of your moving costs, whether it is binding or not.
- If they do, there is no specific information (company name, physical address, licensing information (U.S. DOT number), insurance information, etc.) No specific information will be available (company name, physical location, licensing information (U.S. DOT number), insurance information, etc.). No specific information (company name, physical address, licensing information (U.S. DOT number), insurance details, etc.) will be available.
- There needs to be more information on the local offices, warehouses, or fleets of moving vehicles.
- Before they do any work, the mover will demand a lot of money.
- Moving documents provided by the moving company may be incomplete or blank. Do not sign blank documents.
- The most common scam used by moving companies involves arriving on the day of moving with a rented truck instead of their company's marked and owned moving vehicle.
- The company will ask you to sign another moving estimate on the day of the move because the original has been damaged. They may claim you have more than what they estimated. Have them provide you with a revised moving estimate, which you sign before the company loads your items into the truck.
Protecting yourself from moving scams is a matter of diligence and knowledge. Be vigilant in researching, scrutinizing potential moving companies, and ultimately trusting your instincts regarding professional movers in Westchester. Remember, all reputable companies, like Abreu Movers Westchester, will gladly provide transparent information, welcome your questions, and offer fair estimates.
When you're ready to make your next move, consider the team of Abreu Movers Westchester. We understand the value of your belongings and are committed to delivering reliable, scam-free services that underscore our dedication to your satisfaction. Don't expose your belongings to the risk of fraud; trust a mover with a proven track record.
Don't hesitate to contact us today for a free moving estimate, and let us help ensure your shift is seamless and scam-free. You don't just want any mover; you want the best movers in Westchester – you want Abreu Movers Westchester. Allow us to make your next move your best move yet. Act now to avoid moving scams and ensure a stress-free relocation with Abreu Movers Westchester.
Eric Chandler is a versatile entrepreneur with expertise in both writing and the moving industry. With years of experience as a writer, he has a talent for crafting engaging content on various subjects for major publications and online platforms. Eric also owns a successful moving company that provides reliable and efficient services to clients across the country. His extensive knowledge of the moving process, from packing to delivery, has earned him a reputation as a trustworthy moving expert.