Moving is a major event and it can be very stressful. There are a lot of things to consider, and that can be overwhelming. There are many moving tips that will help you with your relocation. Hiring a moving company is always a good recommendation, but you must be careful to avoid moving scams.
Moving scams can transform your move from an exciting dream to your worst nightmare. Still, there are many ways to avoid them. You just need to know what to pay attention to.
The clues that can help you identify moving scams:
Every reliable company will do an insight estimate. The ones that give you estimate over the phone or email are not the ones that you should trust. Moving prices are based on mileage, the weight of your belongings and their size.
That is why it is crucial that a representative of the company asses your stuff on the spot and determine their bulk and weight. Base on that, the company can make an estimation of the moving costs.
When you accept the sight-unseen estimate, you are opening space many additional costs. This is one of the most common moving scams. It may sound great on the phone, but it’s usually too good to be true. In the end, it can cost you much more than you have planned.
An estimator from the reliable moving company will have a lot of questions for you. Will you bring all of your stuff, would some of the items need special attention, which ones are fragile etc. A good estimator will take many notes and mark all of the possible moving problems. He will do a thorough estimation of every piece of your belongings that you want to move.
If you notice that estimator does a quick walk-through of your home without taking notes, asking questions or opening cabinets, that should be a red flag. It means that you shouldn’t trust that moving company and that you can become a victim of a moving scam if you continue collaborating with them.
Once you have estimation you can see if it fits your moving budget and does it require some adjustment.
Any moving company that demand cash or any large deposit should raise your suspicion. When you are dealing with the reliable movers, you usually pay upon delivery. The deposit should be in the range from $100 to $500. If your mover requires any larger amount than $500 for a deposit, you should start looking for another company.
When you pay up front, you have no guarantee when you’ll see your belongings again. The company can claim that you have to pay additional costs and hold your furniture hostage until you do. To avoid moving scams always pay with your credit card. That way, you can fight any fraudulent activity if they occur.
Always read your contract from the beginning to the end. You may like the mover, but you shouldn’t ever trust them that much to sign an incomplete contract.
Everything that you have agreed upon should be put in writing. Your estimate, all extra fees, pickup and delivery dates, list of all your inventory.
Read everything from top to bottom multiple times and pay attention to a fine print or paragraphs that are „hidden“ in the plain sight.
Don’t sign any contract without the complete list of your belongings. Inventory that isn’t on the list will probably disappear, and you won’t have any evidence to file a claim.
Changing of the company name
Fraudulent moving companies can avoid being caught and prosecuted for moving scams by constantly doing business under new names.
It can be tricky to find that out, and it will require a lot of research. A trustworthy company should have a local address and information about licensing and insurance.
When you are calling the moving company, pay attention to the way they answer the phone. The reliable movers will always present them selfs with a full name of the business. If they answer by some generic phrase like „moving services“, it should make you suspicious.
How to avoid moving scams
Once you know what kind of moving scams are most common, it will be easier to spot them.
To be sure that you are not being scammed, there are some steps that you should take:
- Choose a reliable moving company – The more successful moving company is, the more likely will give you a fair deal. A reputable company will not get involved in moving scams because it’s the sure way to lose good reputation. Find a company that is on the market for a long time and that has a great credibility.
- References – Once you find the company you think you can trust, research it. Go online and check their references. Read personal testimonials from people that have used their services. Finally, ask moving company that has peak your interest to provide you with the list of past customers. The reliable moving company will have no problem providing that information. Any company that balks at this suggestion is suspicious and you should cross it off your list.
- Check the legal status of the moving company – Make sure that moving company that you choose has necessary licenses, insurance, and impeccable reputation. Search their website for the USDOT numbers for interstate movers or MC numbers for intrastate movers. If they exist, it is a clear sign that company is operating legally.
- Start to plan early – Once your decision of relocation is final, start to plan your move. It’s never too early for that.
Most reliable moving companies are fully booked in advance. The longer you wait to contact them, the chance that they will be available at the time of your moving day decreases.