They’re bold, they’re shameless, they’re misleading, and they’re everywhere—they’re the people who create and perpetuate moving scams. Disreputable movers and their representatives can rip you off for big bucks at a time in your life when you’re really not prepared to absorb the unanticipated expense. Here are the top five most common malicious moving scams and the best ways to avoid falling for them:
Internet moving brokers: false “facts”
There are scores of websites on the internet that offer to gather moving estimates from a variety of companies for you. Some charge a fee; some don’t. Their estimates may or may not be accurate—moving companies aren’t required to adhere to rates provided by a third party—and the companies whose estimates they may provide might not even exist. Going through these disreputable brokers does nothing but waste your time and open you up to committing to use the services of a completely made-up company. Avoid these sketchy websites and deal directly with moving companies.
Last-minute price hikes
One of the most common moving scams is a last-second raise in the price of the move. This usually happens after your stuff is locked in the truck; the movers say they won’t unload until you fork over several hundred—or even several thousand—more dollars. What recourse do you have? If your contract specified the rate of your move, and didn’t include any clause for the movers to increase it, you shouldn’t have to pay any additional fees. Under the Carmack Amendment to the Household Transportation Act, you should be entitled to get back any fees you pay in excess. The best solution, though, is to avoid paying such fees in the first place by using a reputable mover.
Movers will often introduce a clause into contracts regarding potential damage to your possessions; clearing themselves from blame should any unexpected circumstances result in broken items. You should understand your contract and know what, if any, compensation you’ll receive from your moving company in the event of damage to your possessions. Find out if your movers’ insurance (or your own insurance) covers damage during a move, or consider taking out a policy to protect your items while they’re in transit. If you discover damage after the movers have left, you’ll need to be able to prove the movers caused it, so be sure to inventory your items while the movers are still present and point out any changes in the condition of your possessions. Having proof of the condition of your items will help you demonstrate that the movers were responsible for any issues.
Stealing your stuff
This isn’t quite a “scam” so much as a totally illegitimate action taken by some particularly disreputable movers. Instead of moving your things to your new location as requested, they simply make off with all your worldly possessions after loading them into their van. To avoid finding yourself in this unfortunate situation, do your research and select a company with a great reputation. If you do find yourself dealing with a company that’s stolen your possessions, you’ll be best aided by a solid moving contract and proof that you own the items your movers may have. This is where any pictures or property inventory you may have taken to get a renter’s insurance policy can come in handy.