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Tips For Avoiding Moving Scams

By Bill Gassett | July 23, 2020

How to Avoid Getting Scammed When You Move

Are you going to be moving shortly? Most home moves pass without incident, but some do go wrong. Some of the problems encountered are thanks to unscrupulous moving companies, with complaints increasing in recent years. One of the most prudent things you can do is careful research on the best moving companies to hire, especially if you're making a long-distance move.

You have a lot to think about and do when moving from one home to another, and it is easy to miss the signs. Going with reputable moving companies will increase the odds you won't get yourself into hot water.

Let's take a look at what you can do to avoid moving scams.

Tips for avoiding moving scams
Don't Get Caught With Unwanted Moving Problems and Other Scams

Accurate Moving Estimates Are Critical

Before you hire a moving company, you need to get an estimate of the costs. This is your first opportunity to spot a company that is involved in moving scams. Whether you are going with a professional mover or doing it yourself, you'll want to lock down the price as best as you can.

If you are a do it yourself kind of person and feel that getting your own moving truck will be your course of action, one of the better-rated companies is U-Haul. You will probably not have any issues finding them either as they are located all over the place.

Here are some of the other top-rated moving truck companies for doing it yourself moves as well.

Don't Be Conned By Low Bids

If you need movers for a long-distance move, you could be tempted by a low bid. However, this could become an expensive mistake. The full costs involved may not be revealed in the proposal, with extra expenses added to the final bill. You should have a full breakdown of the expected costs before agreeing to use the movers.

Watch Out For Phone Bids

If the movers are happy to give you an estimate over the phone, you shouldn't be. It is all but impossible to get an accurate assessment of moving costs when your requirements haven't been looked at in person. You need to pay extra attention to movers who try only to give you a phone estimate. This is a sure-fire way to tell you could be getting scammed.

Watch Out For The Inaccurate Estimator

When you have an appointment with an estimator from a moving company, how much do they really do to assess your requirements? If they just wander through your home without looking in closets or asking questions, how accurate will their assessment be?

They should be trying to find out as much as possible about what you intend to bring with you on the move. If they don't do their job correctly, you could be in for a much larger bill than they initially suggest.

Volume Estimates Could Be a Scam

Long-distance moves should be based on the weight of items rather than the volume they might take up in a truck. In fact, this is considered to be illegal for interstate moves, if there isn't a conversion to the weight of the load. Watch out for this moving scam.

Understand All Extra Expenses

Make sure you understand any extra charges they may want to bill you for. If they are packing your items, understand how much they will charge you for packing materials as well as labor. Make sure you read any fine print in your contract. Not doing so could lead to problems you didn't expect, including extra charges for things you thought would be included.

Are You Getting a Binding Estimate

Is the estimate you are given, binding or non-binding? What may appear to be a binding guaranteed price, may not be if you check the small print of the agreement. You should look for a guaranteed price that accurately states the weight of your possessions, and this may mean the cheapest estimate isn't the best.

It makes sense to get multiple bids, especially something like moving, where the expense is significant.

How to Spot Moving Scammers

Even if everything has gone well with the estimate, there could still be problems with the moving company. Here are some additional moving scams you may encounter beyond the pricing aspect.

Signing a Contract is Key

You should make sure there is a contract that accurately reflects your moving requirements. Some moving scams lack a firm commitment, and this leads to much higher costs that the homeowner is forced to pay to get the move completed.

Terms and Conditions Are Essential

Scammers can use their terms and conditions to protect themselves when ripping off their customers. They may use complicated legal terms to deceive. If you have any doubts, contact a lawyer before signing or use another company.

A Large Deposit Could Be Problematic

If you are asked for cash or a large deposit before moving day, this is a significant red flag. Most reputable movers wouldn't ask for money before delivering your possessions to your new home. Never give a cash deposit, at least a credit card offers some protection.

Understand Federal Moving Laws

Licensed movers are legally required to provide you with a document that states your rights and responsibilities during the move. This will outline the regulations the moving company should be following and your rights. If no such report is provided, this is a problem.

Insurance is a Key Right

Every moving company has to provide insurance for the value of the possessions they are transporting. This means that they need to give a valuation of your items. If this doesn't happen for long-distance moves, you should be concerned.

Protecting Yourself from Moving Scams

There are other things you can do to avoid running into problems. Check the customer feedback online, look at their Better Business Bureau page, and go to the American Moving and Storage Association site to find their listing.

Be wary if you can't find anything, some companies change their business name to hide from negative feedback and complaints. Get their license numbers, find out if they are using any "does business as" names, and ask for recent references from customers in your area. Check the information they provide to make sure everything is as it should be. Not doing your homework is one of the moving mistakes that are easily avoidable.

If you are prepared to do some research about the moving company, you should be able to avoid moving scams that could cost you thousands. Hopefully, you have found these tips for avoiding moving scams to be helpful.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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