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How To Handle Moving Fraud

Published by Chris Townsend

How To Handle Moving Fraud

Relocating to a new home is a major life choice that involves more than just money, which is why you should use the services of a legitimate and licensed company. When it comes to choosing a company with which to work with, there are several factors to consider. Moving business scams are growing more common in our society as long-distance and interstate moves become more common.

In 2020, according to the Better Business Bureau, a total of 230 moving scams were recorded. This is 91% higher than the previous year which recorded 130 cases.

As of July 2021, 148 cases are already filed, which is twice as many as were recorded in July 2020.

These numbers only reflect an estimated 10% of moving frauds, so with that in mind, the actual statistics might be within the thousands.

Look For These Red Flags!

It might be difficult to assess your moving company's legitimacy, especially if they appear to be reliable online. These "moving companies" have been known to neglect the moving process, steal their clients' goods, or overpay for their services.

When working with a moving firm, there are a number of red signs to be aware of.

This includes the fact that no credit cards are accepted, and payments must be made by direct deposit or cash. Also be wary if your moving company requests a big payment prior to the relocation during the off-season. If the moving firm is not registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), this is the most obvious red flag. If this is the case, you should not continue any transactions with this moving company.

Companies that provide instant quotations rather than committing to an onsite inspection to provide an accurate price, as well as those who do not deliver a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a pamphlet that movers are obligated by Federal rules to distribute, are considered as questionable.

Customers should avoid organizations that require them to sign blank contracts or documentation prior to the relocation. You should also look at internet reviews before using a company that has a lot of unresolved client complaints and be vigilant of those with no ratings at all.

Avoid untrustworthy moving business

What Is Considered As A Scam and What Is Not?

These are some of the scams that moving companies engage in. It is critical that individuals are aware of these tactics in order to recognize when they are being conned.

  • Providing you with a questionable low estimate to entice you in, then withholding or threatening to withhold your household items until you pay much more than the quoted amount.
  • Obtaining money under false pretenses, such as misrepresenting the amount of packing materials and other moving items delivered.
  • "Weight boosting," or assigning a fictitious weight or volume to your package.
  • Changing, duplicating, disseminating, or creating a forged bill of lading. All commodities being sent are listed by type, quantity, and destination on the bill of lading.

Since certain inconveniences are unavoidable during a transfer, this does not necessitate legal action or formal complaints. These include:

  • Minor losses and things disappearing during the move
  • Delivery delays of a few days—you may be able to collect reimbursement for a delivery date, but this isn't usually considered a fraud.
  • There may be some cost increases (less than 10%), which are frequently the consequence of erroneous estimations and quotations.
  • In most moves, minor damage to furniture, appliances, and other possessions is common.

What Should I Do If There Are Any Bad Experiences During My Move?

In some cases, making a complaint is necessary to safeguard your rights as a customer, raise a red flag to other customers, and be alert of obvious frauds that require an official report. We understand that registering a complaint takes time, but it is one method to protect yourself and your rights against an untrustworthy moving business.

Moving companies have been known to keep your belongings hostage until you pay them an unreasonable amount of money. The 110% Rule, established by the FMCSA, specifies that moving firms cannot seek payment of more than 110% of the cost of the initial written estimate before delivering your belongings.

Other situations, such as late delivery, significantly damaged merchandise, and delayed service, may not warrant legal action, but they can still be grounds for a complaint. Your complaints should be dealt with and addressed by the team if you're working with a trustworthy moving business.

Report illegal moving firm

How To Report Moving Frauds

If you've recently encountered this, or if you want to be prepared in case you do, we'll walk you through each step of how to report moving frauds.

  1. File A Direct Complaint With The Moving Company
  1. Always submit a complaint with the moving company first. Trustworthy businesses will listen to your issues and work with you to find a solution. To try to remedy the situation, contact their local office as well as their corporate headquarters. Your objections will be rejected or ignored by shady moving businesses.
  1. Report The Moving Company To The Appropriate Authorities
    - If you are certain that the moving business you hired is illegal, you should contact the appropriate institutions and organizations and make a formal complaint.
  • State Agencies: Each state has a regulatory and licensing body in charge of moving companies. If the illegal moving firm is licensed to operate in a certain state and the relocation is an intrastate move, you should notify the state agency responsible.
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): The FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is in charge of overseeing interstate relocation as well as other parts of the trucking, moving, and storage sectors. They'll be in charge of preventing interstate moving fraud. The FMCSA is a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that offers information on businesses and organizations to the general public. It also deals with customer complaints concerning businesses. The Better Business Bureau is devoted to ensuring customer protection and connecting them with respectable service providers.
  • American Trucking Association (ATA): According to the American Trucking Associations Website, “American Trucking Associations is the largest and most comprehensive national trade association for the trucking industry. We represent every sector of the industry, from LTL to truckload, agriculture and livestock to auto haulers, and from large motor carriers to small mom-and-pop operations.”
  1. Consider Taking Legal Action
  • If all other options have been exhausted, you may consider suing the moving company to small claims court. You should contact a reputable attorney to see whether your lawsuit is valid. Suing the corporation is frequently the last resort, especially because it entails a lot of time, effort, and even stress.
Research on potential moving firms

Tips On How To Avoid Moving Frauds


It's usually a good idea to do comprehensive research on potential moving firms. You can go to ProtectYourMove.gov or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) website, FMCSA.gov, for further information. Moving regulations and a list of licensed moving businesses may be found on state-specific government websites. You may also use private websites, since some of them contain a list of “blacklisted” moving businesses. Consumer mover advocacy groups exist in several states as well.

Ask For Recommendations From Trustworthy Sources

While there are benefits to researching movers online, keep in mind that websites are simple to set up, take down, edit, and rewrite. It's easy to falsify internet reviews, and the credentials we see online are simply words. It is best to speak with a friend or family member, or to seek the assistance of reputable real estate agents, in order to be linked with reputable businesses.

Make Sure That You Will Be Personally Visited By The Moving Company

Allowing a moving firm to conduct a physical inspection is recommended. Because bogus moving companies will never do a physical examination, this is a solid sign that the moving business is trustworthy. A good company would spend at least 20 minutes with a new customer answering concerns and providing packing advice.

Get Multiple Estimates

After the aforementioned house visit, it's always a good idea to acquire numerous quotes - preferably three. This is especially important when moving across state lines because logistics are significantly more important. You should not accept the lowest bid right away since it is a clear red flag if one of your bids is significantly lower than the others. It's not always a con, but you should consider why there's such a big difference.

Requires advance moving payment

Never Pay Your Bill Upfront

Some firms request a deposit or down payment of up to 25% of the entire cost of your relocation. This is especially true when moving from one state to another. Reputable businesses would not expect you to pay in whole, or even half, upfront. If the firm requires payment in advance, it's an obvious red flag.


The easiest method to avoid moving scams is to start by connecting with a reliable and trustworthy moving company. Three Movers is a licensed company that works for the benefit of its customers, seeking to make moving as simple and hassle free as possible. Call us at (888) 202-0036 to get started on your relocation right away!

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving. Chris has a keen eye for detail and brings intelligence and passion to every project he’s involved with.

While getting his degree in communications from Santa Clara University, Chris started out with the company working in the field as part of our team of professional moving associates. Following graduation, he was promoted to our main office, where he has thrived in a role that involves increasing responsibility and requires him to wear many different hats. Some days, you may find him answering the phone and providing moving estimates, others he may be writing for our moving blog, and another day he may be coordinating a large corporate moving job or helping us with our marketing efforts. Chris has authored many of our in-depth moving guides, as well as provided our clients with information and advice to handle the complexities of their upcoming moving plans. Simply put, there’s nothing he can’t do and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

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