Moving can be quite an adventure – a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, and new opportunities. But nobody looks forward to the stress and anxiety of the actual move. And the last thing you want is to be scammed by a moving company!
Unfortunately, this is a reality many people face, and knowing how to protect yourself is essential. Did you know that in 2012 alone, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received over 3,100  complaints from consumers about moving companies? And that’s just the reported cases! In this article, we will expose some common moving company scams and, most importantly, share tips on how to avoid being scammed during your next move. Whether you plan to move soon or want to stay informed, keep reading to ensure your move is flourishing and you are dealing with a professional moving company!
Don’t Fall for These Moving Company Scams
Here are a few moving company scams you must be careful about!
1. The Hostage Situation Scam
You’ve arrived at your new home, ready to unpack and settle in, but your moving company only unloads your belongings once you pay an additional fee that wasn’t in your initial agreement. This is a hostage situation scam, and it’s unfortunately all too common in the moving industry.
But fear not! You can protect yourself from this scam by having a written agreement with the moving company that clearly outlines all charges. This way, you have a paper trail to refer to in case of any disputes.
Before signing any agreement, read through it carefully and ask any questions you may have. And keep a copy for yourself! Remember, the more detailed the deal, the better. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no surprises or hidden fees.
Remember, movers, aren’t allowed to hold your stuff hostage if you have paid 100% of the estimated as per your binding estimate or 110% of the estimated costs on your non-binding estimate. So, If you have paid your charges and they are still holding you, hostage, you can call the cops  without any second thought.
2. The Low-Ball Estimate Scam
The low-ball estimate scam – one of the oldest tricks in the book! This scam happens when a moving company offers you an incredibly low estimate, only to add on later a bunch of extra charges that You didn’t include in the original quote . Sneaky, right?
Let’s say you receive an estimated $1,000 to move your belongings across the country. That sounds like a great deal! But, when the moving company arrives to pick up your items, they suddenly inform you that you need to pay an extra $500 for packing materials and an additional $1,000 for fuel charges. Yikes!
To avoid this scam, as discussed earlier, always get a written estimate from the moving company that includes all charges, including any potential extra fees.
Most of the time, this happens when someone booked a moving company online and was flattered by their lowball deals. So, ensure the company performs an in-home assessment before giving you an estimate. This way, the forecast will be based on the items being moved rather than a generic estimate that may need to be revised. By doing these things, you can ensure that you’re getting an accurate estimate and that there are no surprises on a moving day.
3. The No-Show Scam
Waiting for a moving company that never shows up is like waiting for a pizza that never comes. It’s a total bummer! Unfortunately, some shady moving companies use this tactic to exploit unsuspecting customers.
Leaving you stranded with all your boxes and furniture. It’s like being ghosted by someone you were supposed to meet up with – super frustrating and disappointing!
But don’t panic – If the company fails to show up. – contact them immediately to find out what’s happening. If you can’t reach them or they don’t explain satisfactorily, it’s time to find a new moving company and call the cops. Either way, it’s a significant inconvenience and can delay your moving timeline.
To avoid this scam:
- Do your due diligence when researching moving companies.
- Make sure that the moving company is registered under FMCSA .
- Review previous customer reviews and check their rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- Once you’ve found a reputable company, get everything in writing – including the moving date and time.
4. The Fake License Scam
Moving on, the fake license scam is what it sounds like – a moving company that claims to be licensed and registered but, in reality, is not. This can be a huge problem because if something goes wrong during your move, you may be unable to file a complaint or seek restitution.
Let’s say you hire a moving company that claims to be licensed, registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and has a US Department of Transportation (DOT) number. However, when you try to verify the information, you find out that the company still needs to be registered. Uh-oh!
How to be on the safe side?
To avoid this scam, ensure the moving company is licensed, registered with the FMCSA , and has a USDOT number. You can check this information by searching for the company on the FMCSA’s website. This will ensure that the company is legitimate and that you have some recourse if something goes wrong during your move. Be bold and ask for proof of registration – a reputable moving company will gladly provide it.
5. The Packing Scam
Moving can be stressful, and the last thing you want to worry about is falling victim to a packing scam. This is when a moving company overcharges you for packing services, either by inflating the number of items they pack or by charging you for supplies that You never used.
Let’s say you hire a moving company to pack up your belongings. The company charges you a flat fee of $1,000 for packing, but when you receive your bill, you notice that the company has charged you an additional $470 for packing supplies. When you inquire about the charges, the company claims they used more supplies than expected. But you don’t remember seeing many boxes or packing materials used.
How to avoid it?
Always ask for an itemized list of all packing fees before agreeing to the service to avoid this scam. This will help you avoid surprises when it comes time to pay the bill.
6. The Insurance Scam
Last on our list is the insurance scam, where a moving company offers insurance coverage that seems too good to be accurate but provides very little protection in the event of damage or loss.
For instance, imagine you hire a moving company that offers insurance coverage for your belongings during the move. However, when an item is damaged or lost, you discover that the insurance policy has a high deductible and only covers a small percentage of the item’s value, leaving you with a significant loss.
How to avoid it safely?
To avoid this scam, it’s crucial to understand the terms of the moving company’s insurance policy . Before you sign any contract, ask for a clear explanation of what is covered and what is not.
Additionally, you should research the moving company’s insurance provider and read reviews to ensure that the provider is reputable and has a good track record.
Consider purchasing additional insurance coverage from a third-party provider to supplement the coverage provided by the moving company.
7. The Overweight Load Scam
You’re all set to move to your new place, but you quickly realize that the weight of your belongings is giving you a significant headache. That’s because some moving companies like to play dirty by packing your items in a way that exceeds the weight limit, which can result in a heftier bill than the one you were initially quoted. It’s like being stuck with a giant bag of rocks you never asked for!
What can I do to avoid this situation?
Firstly, hire a company that uses a certified scale to weigh your belongings before and after the move. This way, you’ll only be charged for what your items weigh and nothing more.
You can even request a copy of the weight tickets, which the law requires. If the moving company gives you the runaround or refuses to provide this, it’s a surefire sign that they’re up to no good. So, feel free to look for a different and more trustworthy moving company.
In this blog, you’ve gained an insight into the seven most common moving company scams and the tips for avoiding them. To recap:
- The Hostage Situation Scam – Ensure you have a written agreement outlining all fees with the moving company.
- The No-Show Scam – Research the moving company before hiring them and confirm the moving date and time in writing.
- The Bait-and-Switch Scam – Get everything in writing, including any promises or guarantees the moving company makes.
- The Fake License Scam – Ensure the moving company is licensed and registered with the FMCSA and has a USDOT number.
- The Packing Scam – Ask for an itemized list of all packing fees before agreeing to the service.
- The insurance scam – Research the moving company’s insurance provider and read reviews to ensure that the provider is reputable and has a good track record.
- The Overweight Load Scam – Hire a company that uses a certified scale to weigh your belongings before and after the move.
To ensure a safe and successful move, it’s essential to do your research and work with a professional moving company. Check their reviews, ask for references, and ensure they have valid licenses and insurance coverage. Remember, caution and skepticism can go a long way in protecting yourself from moving company scams.
1. How can I avoid being scammed by a moving company?
Do your homework, read reviews, and ask for referrals from friends and family to prevent being duped by a moving company. Be wary of movers who demand sizable deposits or provide atypically low estimates. Get a written contract that details all the terms and costs of your move at all times.
2. What can you do if you get scammed by a moving company?
If a moving company defrauded you, you should file a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can also consider contacting a lawyer or legal aid organization to help you pursue legal action and get compensation for any damages or losses.
3. How do you trust a moving company?
To trust a moving company:
- Start by conducting research and reading customer feedback.
- Check if they are licensed and registered with the FMCSA and have a USDOT number.
- Ask for references and check their credentials with the BBB.
A trustworthy moving company should be transparent about its pricing, services, and insurance policies.