How to Avoid Getting Ripped-Off By Moving Companies

Moving day is stressful enough as it is. Don’t add the worry of stolen items by following the tips in this guide.

How Do I Stop My Movers From Stealing?

Moving is often cited as one of the most stressful life events, and this stress is only compounded when you fall victim to a moving scam.

As the number of people relocating for work, family, or personal reasons increases, so do the opportunities for shady movers to take advantage of those in transition.

With reports of moving scams on the rise, you must arm yourself with knowledge and strategies to protect your belongings and your wallet.

The Rise of Moving Scams

A notable increase in moving scams has been observed in recent years, with a reported 12% rise since the beginning of 2023 compared to the same period in previous years.

This uptick can be attributed to the higher number of individuals and families moving, driven by a desire to find more affordable living situations or to be closer to loved ones.

Unfortunately, this demand has also attracted scammers looking to exploit the situation.

Recognizing Common Scams

Understanding the most common types of moving scams is the first step in protecting yourself. These include:

The Change of Address Scam: Scammers will create a fake website that mimics the postal service, charging a hefty fee to change your address.

The No-Show Scam: After paying a deposit, the moving company fails to show up on the agreed-upon moving day. Remember to never pay cash for a deposit and try to use a credit card if possible.

Movers Fraud: A company provides a low quote, loads your possessions, and then demands additional fees to release your items.

Prevention Strategies

To prevent these and other moving scams, consider the following tips:

Research Extensively: Gather quotes from various companies to compare competitive pricing. Extremely low bids can often be a sign of potential scammers trying to make a quick buck.

Prefer In-Home Estimates: Opt for movers who conduct in-person inventory assessments for more accurate pricing and to avoid unexpected charges.

Maintain an Inventory List: A detailed list of items being moved helps in monitoring your possessions and serves as a reference in case of disputes. You can label your boxes and take photos of the contents. In extreme cases, you may want to place trackers inside some of your boxes if they are going on multiple trucks.

Secure Payment Practices: Paying with a credit card offers additional protection against fraud. Be cautious of movers demanding large deposits upfront and never pay cash upon request. Credit card disputes are much easier to resolve than money taken directly from your account.

Read Reviews and Seek References: Investigate the moving company's track record through reviews and by requesting references. If there are little to no reviews online, you may want to avoid these movers, unless they are referred by someone you know.

Be Cautious of Hidden Fees: Some moving companies may not disclose all fees upfront. Ask for a comprehensive breakdown of costs to avoid surprise charges.

If movers start bringing up hidden charges, try your best to back out of the deal and work with someone else.

Verify Licensing and Insurance: Check if the company is properly licensed and insured. More reputable businesses are less likely to have issues.

Understand Your Contract: Thoroughly review your moving contract, paying close attention to cancellation policies and delivery timelines.

Use Trusted Resources for Finding Movers: Consider using resources like the Better Business Bureau or the American Moving and Storage Association to find reputable companies.

Be Wary of Blank Moving Contracts: Never sign a blank or incomplete contract. Be sure all terms, services, and costs are clearly documented before signing.

Document Everything: Keep a record of all correspondence, quotes, and contracts related to your move. Photographs of valuable items can also serve as evidence in case of damage.

What To Do If You're Scammed

Document everything. As soon as you suspect you've been scammed, start by gathering all your documentation. This includes contracts, emails, text messages, quotes, and any photographic evidence of your belongings before and after the move. This documentation will be vital as you seek recourse.

Contact the moving company. Reach out to the moving company to express your concerns and ask for a resolution. Sometimes, issues may arise from misunderstandings that can be resolved without further action. Keep a record of all communications with the company during this phase.

Dispute the charges. If you paid the moving company with a credit card, contact your credit card issuer to dispute the charges. Credit card companies have dispute resolution processes for fraudulent charges and services not rendered as agreed.

Check your insurance. If you have moving insurance or if your homeowners' or renters' insurance covers moving scams, reach out to your insurance company to file a claim. Understanding your policy's coverage can be crucial in recovering the value of lost or damaged items.

Moving scams can transform what should be an exciting new chapter into a stressful ordeal. By being vigilant, conducting thorough research, and following the preventative tips outlined above, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling prey to these scams.

Remember, the key to a successful move is preparation and choosing a reputable moving company that prioritizes transparency and customer satisfaction.

George Marks

A copywriter with a knack for adapting quickly, thanks to moving all across the US when I was growing up. Currently, I continue to embrace new cities for work, each move adding a new chapter to my story and expanding my perspective both personally and professionally. In my free time, I enjoy things like tennis, building computers, and writing engaging stories in a professional setting.

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