How to Avoid a Moving Scam
There's one thing more stressful than moving.
Moving and being scammed.
Moving scammers can turn relocating (already a stressful and emotional moment in your life) into a gut-wrenching and costly nightmare. These scams run the gamut from missing items to massive price hikes, and in some cases, goods being held hostage for additional payment — sometimes a huge payment.
Before hiring a moving company, you have to do some research. Consider this your introductory lesson!
There are several versions of moving scams:
- You get a quote and leave a deposit, but the "movers" never show.
- The moving company quotes a price based on weight, but after loading they inform you that your belongings went over the weight estimate and the additional weight will cost a lot more per pound (sometimes double).
- The movers quote a price, arrive on time, and load your belongings on a truck. Then the truck doesn’t show up at your new home. Your belongings are gone forever, or you have to pay another fee before they'll be delivered. Believe it or not, this does happen.
Tips for spotting a risky company/moving scam:
- The mover's website has no address and/or no info about their registration or insurance
- Your calls are answered with a generic greeting rather than a company name
- The mover uses rented trucks
- The moving company doesn’t make an on-site inspection but does estimates over the phone
- The mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance
- The company says it won’t return your items without more money than you agreed to pay
Get everything in writing
Carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the limits of liability and any disclaimers. Make sure pick-up and delivery dates are spelled out and understand how the rate is being calculated. Don’t pay cash, don’t prepay or make a large deposit. Understand the terms of the insurance coverage and consider purchasing full value protection.
Keep an inventory of your belongings
Make a detailed inventory of your property and number the boxes they are packed in for tracking. Know that a mover is not liable for loss or damage of contents in customer-packed boxes, unless there is provable negligence on the part of the mover.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. If the moving company can’t or won’t answer your questions, you might want to look for another mover.
Lastly, consider that if you're generally a trusting person, people who are out to scam you will sense that trust in you and take advantage of it. Moving your cherished belongings is one of those times in life when you should be a bit more on your guard.