Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them

Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them

Pictured is an open moving truck, mostly empty, with a wooden dolly on the ground.
How to avoid moving scams

The day after Memorial Day is deemed as “National Moving Day.” As a moving company, we can see why- Summer is the season for moving! May is the perfect time of year to start a new life: Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the kids are free from that dreaded school. Moving is even better when you can hire someone else to take care of the hard work for you.

But what most people don’t realize about hiring a moving company is that there is a great danger that must be addressed: Moving scams. Below we will discuss what a moving scam is, how to avoid them, and what to do if you happen to be a target or victim of one.

So what exactly is a moving scam?

It is exactly how it sounds. A moving company schemes up a way to take your money while giving you horrible service, no service at all, or holding your belongings for ransom until you pay them even MORE money. These happen regularly, every day. The goal is to take a customer’s money without providing the service previously discussed or agreed upon.

Believe it or not, there are different types of moving scams that people should be aware of. Here we will discuss the main types, which each one is, and what that scenario might look like.

Types of Moving Scams

The first type of moving scam to watch out for is the large deposit request. With this scam, the moving company asks for a large deposit prior to the move (more than twenty percent of the estimate). This should be a huge red flag to customer’s as most companies only ask for a small deposit, or none at all. Deposits are typically made to secure your moving day and go toward the cost of moving, but not in this case. And once the scamming company receives your money, they discontinue any contact with you and simply just “disappear.” In reality, they’re already out trying to scam someone else into giving them their money for absolutely no service.

The next scam is the invented charges scheme. This scenario would look like everything is going according to plan, but when you receive the bill for the service, there are added fees listed. The company does this to drive up the price- not just by a little bit, but by huge amounts. There could be “driver’s fee” or a “stairs fee’s” that weren’t mentioned in the estimate or contract. If these things weren’t discussed in the contract signed by you and the company, there’s a good chance that you are dealing with a scam.

Another simple way that you could be scammed is by the weight estimate that the company provided. With this scam, the company arrives at your home and gives you an estimate based upon weight. But once the service is over and they hand you the bill, the actual price jumps up to two, or three times the original estimate. What a total scam!

The last scam that I want to discuss, and possibly the worst one, is the hostage situation. This scam is all about proper estimates, wonderful loading times, and amazing service- until you show up at the new house and your belongings never make it. The company either just stole all of your household items, or they are holding them ransom until you pay the company a HUGE amount of money. This situation is especially awful because you are trying to move into your beautiful new home, but don’t have a couch or bed to lay in. You feel as though you HAVE to pay the company what they ask, otherwise you won’t get your stuff back.

Pictured is a stacked-full moving truck.
The Hostage Situation is possibly the worst moving scam.

I know these situations sound horrible, and might make you wary about hiring a moving company- but do not fear! There are steps you can take to avoid these scams and luckily we listed them below just for you!

How to avoid moving scams

  • Get estimates from at least three companies. This will give you an idea on how to judge whether or not you are dealing with a scam that attracts customers with really low prices. These are too good to be true! They will either trick you into paying more later, or simply just walk off with your belongings. Don’t fall for it! Also, estimates should be free of charge and part of the service.
  • Make sure that your designated moving company visits your home to provide an estimate, and does a thorough walk-through if it is a long-distance move. Many local companies might provide over-the-phone estimates, but not long-distance. If a company tries to provide you an estimate over the phone for a long-distance move, this is a huge sign of a possible scam.
  • Watch out for a big deposit requirement! Like we stated above, most moving companies only ask for a small deposit or none at all. So if your moving company demands a large deposit, it’s time to drop them right away.
  • Get everything in writing. We cannot implore this enough. Don’t just make a handshake deal, or accept a blank contract. Otherwise, you have nothing to prove the wrongdoing that the company did to you.
  • Do your homework. Check reviews, ask for references from the company, make sure they have a website and address listed, check that they have insurance and that they are registered and licensed. You should especially see a DOT Number listed on their website. If not- be wary of scams.
Pictured is a screenshot from Move It With M&S LLC's website with our DOT and MC number given, along with websites to check our credibility.
A legit moving company will have their information available on their website.
  • Lastly, ask questions. If the company is legit and trustworthy, they will be able to answer you completely and honestly. If they try to avoid certain questions, it’s time to do some digging as to why.

To check whether or not a company has proper authority and insurance, please visit the Missouri Department of Transportation’s website here. To check if a company is properly licensed and to verify their safety rating and other useful information, please click here.

What to do if you are a target or victim of a scam

Below are resources you can use to report a moving company due to a scam.

  1. Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) consumer website here. Once you are on their website, scroll down until you see the red header titled, “File a Moving Fraud Complaint.” Click on “Learn more” and follow the steps listed.
  2. File a complaint on the Better Business Bureau’s website here. Click on the three lines in the top right-hand corner and click on “File a Complaint.” You can also leave a review from their website as well.
  3. Call the local police. If you find yourself in a hostage situation, you can file a police report for stolen goods. Any other situation is considered a civil matter between you and the company, so they won’t help in all scenarios.
  4. Local/social media. Getting the press involved might shine a light on fraudulent movers, potentially preventing them from scamming anyone else. Social media might also be a good option as well. Posting about your experience on Facebook in a local “Swap Shop” might prevent others from using that company in the future as well.
Pictured is a moving truck, with a outside light in the corner. Some sun rays are glaring down into the picture.
Social media and press are a good way to shine some light on fraudulent movers.

For more possibilities on how to deal with a fraudulent moving company, please visit https://www.movingscam.com/articles/ive-scammed-now.

Conclusion

Moving scams are incredibly scary. Move It With M&S LLC has noticed a recent rise in new moving “companies” trying to advertise here in Saint Joseph. We want as many people to be aware of the possible scams that could be arising near you and understand what to do if you notice one occurring. We also want to implore that it’s okay to put your trust in moving companies- as long as you follow the necessary steps/actions, you will be sure to find yourself an honest, trustworthy moving company to help kickstart your new life in your beautiful new home.

The owner of Move It With M&S LLC, Theresa Meyer, has fourteen years of experience in the moving industry. If you have any questions or need advice about hiring a moving company, even if it’s not ours, please feel free to contact her at (816) 689-2627 or email her at info@moveitwithms.com.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post to learn more about moving estimates and pricing!

Comments

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    […] our last blog post, Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them, we discussed how you should conduct research on every moving company you are considering. We also […]

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