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Top 10 Moving Scams

Are you getting ready for a move to a new city or neighborhood? Have you already picked a moving company? If not, there are some things you should look into before hiring movers to avoid getting scammed. By being aware of the most common scams, you can better defend yourself and your belongings. That’s the best way to prevent unfortunate events, such as losing money and having your items held hostage for ransom. In the rest of this article, we will go over the top 10 moving scams. Knowing these, you’ll be able to spot a red flag from a mile away.

Generic greeting when answering a phone

A moving company that does not answer the phone with the advertised company name is usually a sign that they are operating under multiple names. It can also mean that they are concealing their actual name from the government, the IRS, dissatisfied customers, and so on. To make sure you’re working with a good moving company, ask for three references from your area and who moved within the past three months. You can look up other online tips on how to interview local movers before hiring them.

A “new” moving company with a generic name

Everyone starts as a new company. However, this can also be interpreted as a red flag. Watch out for company websites that lack an address and information about a mover’s registration or insurance. Also, beware of non-existent online reviews, no references, or unwillingness to provide you with a comprehensive estimate. New businesses should already have solid policies and procedures in place, references from beta moves they’ve offered to their network, and a summary of their personal industry experience.

A company that frequently changes its name

If the company changes its name often, it could indicate that they had to close down and stop using their old name to avoid taxes, lawsuits, or bad reviews. This is one of the most apparent signs you’re dealing with a fraudulent moving company. Brooklyn is famous for this type of moving scam. So, when organizing a move in Brooklyn, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company.

Making estimates without an in-person inspection

A moving company may be able to provide a ballpark estimate of moving costs. They should, however, always insist on an in-person inspection. You might think no inspection might save you some money, but you’re wrong. The moving price isn’t based only on mileage. This means that movers must first see the size of your apartment, the volume of items you own, and the layout of your building to provide an accurate estimate. Anyone who claims this is an entirely unnecessary step is most likely a moving scammer in action.

Quick inspections

Moving company scams are masters at seeming like they’re confident. On the other hand, a quick bid isn’t a sign of a moving company’s confidence. It’s a clear red flag that you’re dealing with a moving scam. An estimator who does a quick walk-through of your home without opening closets and cabinets and noting down precisely what you intend to move will be way off. A good estimator will ask you questions to get as many details as they can.

An analog clock.
If the inspections seem too quick, they are probably not real!

“Lowball” bids

Moving is an expensive endeavor, from labor to packing supplies. Don’t believe anything that appears to be too good to be true. In reality, the higher-priced quotes are most likely the most reliable. Do your homework and research moving quotes in your area. Generally, conducting extensive online research is one of the best ways to avoid moving scams.

Requesting a large deposit

If a large deposit is required before the move, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a moving scam. Reputable movers usually ask for payment upon delivery and do not require cash or a large deposit. When you pay in advance, you give up control of the process. Even if they offer a tempting discount, never pay cash for a move. Using a credit card can help you avoid moving scams and recover your money.

Hand holding hundred dollar bills.
If your moving company asks for a large deposit, find a new moving company!

Failure to provide insurance coverage 

Accredited movers are required to provide insurance valuation. They are liable for the total value of your goods. But it’s important to note; there can be a grey area here. Moving companies, for example, may reserve the right to replace the current value of your used goods but not the value of a brand-new version. Before signing a contract, inquire about full value protection or a different level of liability. Some movers may offer a percentage of the item’s cost rather than the full price.

Outrageously high packing fees

High packing fees usually indicate that a company is attempting to inflate its costs and pass them on to you. Do your best to avoid these add-ons. Request a flat rate for packing that is competitive in your market. Alternatively, finish the packing yourself and hire a company to move your boxes into your new place. There are plenty of packing tips online you can look into, including tips for packing an essentials box for moving.

Man carrying a box avoiding moving scams.
There is no need to overpay for packing, as you can pack by yourself very easily!

A blank contract or handshake

Never sign a blank contract or settle on a handshake deal, just like any other business transaction. If you don’t get a contract, you’re better off moving on your own. Everything you discuss, from the price and time to your moving and delivery dates, should be in writing. You cannot file a claim for something that is not in the contract. Verify that all items are attached to the contract. Also, make sure you feel confident that all items are accounted for.

In conclusion

Moving companies can engage in shady business practices for years before being shut down. Even after that, they can reopen with a new name in the next town. Only some of the most popular moving scams are listed in this article. When you’re planning a move, make sure you have done all the possible research. Checking one company’s reviews and comparing their prices to other companies may seem like a lot of work, but it could save you from losing a lot of your money to a scam.