Consumer Beware: Common Moving Scams You Should Know
It’s no secret that the moving industry has its share of bad apples, which is why it’s important to understand some of the more common moving scams you may encounter while looking for a moving company. In this article, we’ll go over some of the fraudulent (or illegal) tactics that some companies employ to take advantage of unsuspecting customers, as well as what you can do about it if it happens to you.
A Suspiciously Low Estimate
One of the biggest red flags in the moving industry is a price quote that is suspiciously low. Typically, these cases end up in a customer agreeing to a low rate, only to have the price hiked up after their stuff has been loaded on the truck. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for less reputable companies to ask for an additional payment beyond what was agree upon in order to get your belongings delivered. The best way to combat this is to get moving estimates from several different companies. While the prices will vary somewhat, they should be roughly in the same price range. If you talk to three to five moving companies and get an estimate, it should be easy to spot the ones that don’t add up.
Request of A Large Deposit
Another common ruse used by unscrupulous movers is the request of a large up front deposit. To be clear, moving companies do sometimes request a small deposit to hold your moving date, truck rental, and labor request, but it should only be a small deposit. Any request for a deposit that is more than a very small portion of your total estimate should make you raise an eyebrow. Along the same lines, if a deposit is requested by wiring money or sending a cashier’s check, that should be a red flag too. Movers can and do charge a small deposit, but the emphasis is on the “small.”
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No Physical Address Listed
This tip especially applies if you’re looking for a moving company online. Any legitimate moving company will obviously have a physical address with an office and possibly even storage units on the premises. If you poke around the website of a company you’re considering and you can’t find any address listed, that’s a sign that you should move on and look for other options. In many cases, the companies that do this are simply brokers without a true office location that sells your information to companies that actually do the work.
No Written Estimate Provided
Estimates for moving are often provided over the phone, but you should still receive a written estimate. In fact, it’s required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation that oversees and regulates the moving industry. Think of it this way: you’re entering into a contract with a moving company when you agree to work with them and the lack of a contract means you should look elsewhere for moving help.
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This resource from the FMCSA covers the moving scams mentioned in this article, as well as others you need to be aware of. In general, it’s a good resource to take a look at just so that you’re familiar with the best practices when hiring movers.
Another good resource to look over before talking to a moving company or getting a quote, this one also covers red flags to look out for, as well as what steps you can take if you have been defrauded by a moving company.