How to avoid moving company scams
There is no doubt, moving home becomes a lot less stressful when you hire trained professionals. Although many moving companies are legitimate and reliable, there are some dishonest companies that engage in fraudulent activities and offer false incentives to clients. It is of great importance to take precautionary steps and do the right research to prevent falling pray to moving company scams. The best protection in avoiding a moving company scam is doing your homework and knowing all of the red flags to watch out for. To get started, read our tips on how to avoid moving company scams.
- It goes without saying; if you start your search online, try to find out as much as you can about the company. Check for complaints. Browse their website. Check social media.
- A legitimate moving company will be licensed and insured. Request a DOT license number and refer to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for verification.
- Visit Better Business Bureau’s Web site and check for any complaints the moving company may have. You will also be able to see the number of complaints, the types of complaints and the patterns of complaints. An honest moving company will maintain an acceptable BBB Ratings.
- Check to see if the moving company is a proud member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). An honest, professional moving company should hold memberships with several associations within the industry.
- Check to see if the moving company has a real, physical address. A legitimate moving company will have an actual address that coincides with Google maps.
- A real moving company will have real moving trucks, complete with branding and logos. Check in advance and if on moving day they arrive with a rental truck and not with their company-owned, marked moving truck, proceed with caution.
- A real moving company will not demand a large cash deposit before moving you. You generally pay upon delivery. A fraudulent moving company may demand a lot of money upfront and then never show. However, keep in mind that during the height of the moving season, some reputable movers may charge you a deposit in order to reserve the moving date for your move. Standard booking fees should not exceed 10%-15% of the final moving price.
- Be wary of very low moving quotes. Unrealistically low prices can be a sign that something is not right. The final price you will be asked to pay will be much higher than the initial low-ball estimate you were given. This is true for both over the phone and in house estimates. If an estimator comes to your home, performs a quick walk-through and quotes you a low price without asking you any essential questions, there is a high chance you are dealing with fraudulent movers. If paying much more than originally quoted is not bad enough, a low-ball estimate will most likely lead to a hostage-goods situation as well. This occurs when your belongings have arrived at their destination, but until you pay a much higher price than originally quoted, your belongings will be kept on the truck, as hostage.
- A legitimate moving company should offer several moving insurance options to ensure you can have the highest protection of your belongings in the case something goes wrong. The highest protection is charged an additional fee. Discuss with your mover the different options available for your move.
- Read your contract from top to bottom and make sure to get absolutely every detail of your move in writing. Your estimate, inventory sheet, extra fees, your pickup and delivery date. Each document should be complete and properly signed and stamped. Under no circumstances should you ever sign a blank or incomplete contract. Once this happens, you will have absolutely no control over the exact details of your move, how much you pay, or the items moved.