A Comprehensive Guide and Tips On How to Avoid Moving Scams
Once in a while, moving from one location to another with all your belongings is inevitable. This means that, at any given day, there are people on the move. Due to the millions of people moving from one place to another, moving services have become a lucrative industry that is definitely prone to moving scams and frauds. This has become a major concern to people who need moving services. The companies offering such services are also embroiled in cutthroat competition, a fact that leads to many of them offering unreasonably low quotes in order to secure deals. Such are the companies that clients should be wary of. When looking for a suitable moving company to offer you services, don’t go for the one offering you the lowest quote without considering other important factors. It is for this very reason that we have opted to give the idea of how to avoid moving scams, a comprehensive coverage that will help you to avoid a ripoff any time you might want to move.
Where to begin when searching for reliable movers
It is important to do your homework properly by carrying out research on the company that you have settled on in order to get some helpful background information on it. This will help you to avoid getting scammed and end up losing your hard-earned money as well as precious time. To begin with, you need to learn how to spot dishonest movers before falling into their trap and finding yourself in very distressing circumstances.
A good number of moving companies operate genuine businesses, but lately, several complaints about scams have been reported. When looking for moving services, the best way to avoid getting scammed is knowing how to recognize rogue movers before they load belongings for relocation. It is advisable to find a number of moving companies whose rates and prices you can compare before making your choice. This way, you get a chance to know what you expect and be able to gauge whether the offers you are getting are genuine or potential scams. Each year, we normally get several reports on scams as well as stories of people who have been ripped off. The following are our suggestions on how you can avoid getting scammed or ripped off.
How to evade moving scams
The following tips can help you to ask the right questions on moving, well in advance, and be in a position to spot the ever-present telltale signs that you are dealing with a scammer.
- Most scammers will usually give you an unreasonably low quote when you talk with them over the phone and go ahead to assure you that they will execute the job in a record short time. This looks so attractive and makes you think that you have actually landed a good deal. You should avoid such companies like a plague. Fortunately, it is easy to detect an unreasonable offer. Once that happens, all you need to do is hang up and try the next company on your list.
- A good number of the scammers are in the habit of demanding a cash-only payment as well as a huge upfront deposit of up to 50%. Normally, a moving deposit should be around 10 to 20%. Anything more than that might be a potential scam. Once you have paid in cash, you cannot use your credit card company to dispute or even reverse the payment. Usually, the scammers cannot be reached after the delivery of your belongings.
- They need to provide you with a copy of a booklet which contains your “Rights and Responsibilities” as per the Federal regulations. The booklet contains all the basic information that you need to be aware of.
- Read a number of consumer reports, ratings and moving reviews before you make any bookings. Online testimonials and complaints from former clients help you to know which company is likely to offer quality moving services. Reviews will also make you aware of the regrettable scamming circumstances that others have found themselves in and learn to avoid them.
- If the company has no website, a major business asset in the 21st Century, it should put you on the alert. Some might have a website which lacks any licensing or insurance information. This should also raise the red flag since all moving companies are required by law to display their DOT numbers on their websites. This ensures that those who are moving only use duly licensed companies to avoid becoming victims of moving scams. You have a right to ask for licensing information from your mover as well as check them out in the Department of Transportation. You should avoid any unlicensed moving company.
- Dealing with BBB certified movers is a good idea
- Reputable and well-established moving companies are expected to possess a fleet of branded company trucks. You must insist on moving with a company vehicle and not one that is for hire and is not branded.
Early Warnings While Choosing a Mover
Some of the telltale signs that you are dealing with a scammer include:
- On calling the company, your call gets answered with a generic “Moving Company” or “Movers” instead of a company name.
- The movers ask for a cash-only payment or an unusually big upfront deposit
- The company’s website lacks any licensing or insurance information as required by law.
- They show only positive reviews (Probably written by employees). They might also have only negative reviews written by dismayed clients.
- On the day of moving, a hired truck (Probably a Budget, Penske, or Ryder truck) shows up at your doorstep, in place of a branded company fleet truck. Remember that even the well-established companies sometimes go for rental trucks, especially during the busy summer period. A truck that is not company-branded shouldn’t worry you if you have done a thorough background check on the company and you are assured that they offer honest and quality services.
- They don’t offer you a full value protection plan to cover your valuable belongings. Any professional mover ought to offer you multiple insurance alternatives to secure your belongings.
- They demand that you sign some blank pages in the Bill of Lading on the day you are moving. You should never sign any blank page.
Figure Out The Relevant Local, State And Federal Organizations
You should find out the local, state and federal organizations which are responsible for oversight of moving businesses. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FACSA) collaborates with local state and federal associations as well as agencies to see to it that the clients get the necessary information on the moving industry and how to avoid scams. You need to know which of the relevant moving associations and agencies that you can contact for help when you have some queries or need to file a complaint. You can always consult Google, but below we give you some suggestions.
- You need to confirm whether the company is a BBB-certified business
- The company should not only be insured and licensed but a member of a respectable association which has given standards that promote fair business. A company like that will jealously guard its reputation and will not want to be associated with any scam.
- Verify whether the company is one of the members of the reputable American Moving and Storage Association.
Information from Wikipedia shows that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (An affiliate of the U.S. Department of Transportation) has about 20 employees to man the several thousands of active moving companies. This is definitely a tall order. Therefore, the biggest responsibility of ensuring that you don’t become a victim of a moving scam lies with you.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Moving Scams?
- Ensure that you take clear photos of all your valuables (such as expensive furniture) before moving. This will act as evidence, in case you may be needed to go to court.
- Make sure you take photos of the movers together with their trucks and ensure that all your items are moved in the same truck
- Dispute any credit card payments in case you sense that you are headed for a potential scam.
- Make sure you ask for a copy of the contract. Also, never sign any blank papers since this is one of the most obvious signs of a scam.
- In case of a scam, get an attorney to take care of your case. Ensure you have enough evidence.
- File a complaint with the Department of Transportation
- File a BBB complaint.
It is important to remember that information is power, thus you need to equip yourself with as much information as possible, regarding the moving business. You need to know all your rights and responsibilities so that you can be in a position to protect yourself from scams. It is also advisable to check out the government-owned Protect Your Move website to get useful information on relocation.