Moving homes is an exciting time in life, and consequently pretty stressful. To reduce the load of organizing transportation and migrating huge amounts of property by amateurs, many people opt for hiring professional hands, in other words, enlisting the help of a moving company.
This should be a safe decision to make. After all, you are entrusting everything you own to these people, so of course you want them to be professional and reliable about it. Unfortunately, scammers have taken root in the moving industry just like in any other, and you have to be smart and careful. Read on for some of the most common kinds of scams that illegitimate (or just plain immoral) movers pull their customers into, and while you are here, you may want to take a look at this article about car shipping scams to make sure you will have the know-how for safely moving your vehicle along with your furniture.
They claim to have the cheapest rate
Filtering through potentially hundreds of ads online and in the newspaper to find the most affordable deal is uniquely tedious business. It is not unusual to be tempted to select the cheapest contractor and spare yourself both the expense and the effort, but in the case of moving companies, this is a huge mistake.
With these people you quite literally get what you pay for. While reputable companies may charge for their services somewhat more steeply, you can bet the last cent on that bill that it will be worth it. Glowingly cheap deals tend to cost you way more down the road, as your belongings get damaged, lost, switched with a stranger’s, or simply held “hostage” until you pay some ridiculous fictional fee to get them back. If you are just starting your search, skip the generic Google results and look for a reputable mediator, such as the 9Kilo.com moving companies platform, and make sure to run your potential candidates through the BBB (Better Business Bureau) database.
They tell you to leave it all to them
Nope, plain and simple. You never leave your movers unsupervised, just as you would not leave children or candles. You absolutely must be there to openly and obviously supervise the loading of your belongings for the move, and the unloading when you arrive to your new home as well.
If the moving company you hired are a legitimate business who know their trade and take it seriously, they will not mind it. In fact, you will likely get a compliment for being reasonable and cooperating.
If, however, they are scammers or wannabe thieves, making it obvious that you are keeping an eye out will prevent them from “misplacing” any of your property.
Not only will it prevent any theft, but you can also have first-hand info about any damage that may happen during the move. For some advice on how to handle that kind of situation, check out this blog article: https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/how-to-handle-loss-or-damage-during-a-move
If you cannot be there yourself, ask a trusted friend or two to cover for you and keep you updated.
They suggest to “fill out all the details later”
This cannot be stressed enough, not just for movers but for any kind of business, trade or transactions: never, ever, make the mistake of signing a blank or unfinished document.
This is one of the most frequent ways movers scam customers, because it is pretty easy to pull off. People who are moving are typically quite flustered about it going right and they are often in a hurry to get on with things and get on the road to their new home.
Therefore, when someone who looks like an official or professional figure says “It’s okay, you just sign here and we will fill it in”, people tend to do as they are told without thinking.
But then what? When they already have your legally valid signature on that little dotted line, they can easily add extra charges or weird conditions you never agreed to – and there will be nothing you can do about it.
Therefore, before you ever sign anything, make sure the document is complete, and take the time and effort to read it thoroughly. Ask for an outside assessment if you need it, and learn more about common business fraud types.
If your movers (or any potential associates) are rushing you to just hurry up and sign what they give you, if they have no understanding or patience for you to properly read a legally binding text, that is a huge red flag and you should nope away instantly and permanently.
They weasel out of providing their paperwork
Remember, transparency is the mark of good business.
Any mover enterprise or local mover company, no matter the specification and scope of their business, has to be registered with the relevant legal bodies. One of those is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (commonly known as the FMCSA), which confirms the business’ registry status by giving out what is called a U.S. DOT number. You can learn more about that at their own official website, at this link: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/do-i-need-usdot-number
So, any serious moving company will have this document and should have no problem sharing it with their customers. They may even volunteer this information before you actually ask for it. After all, a legitimate business will of course be known to and approved by the relevant government offices, in other words, they have nothing to hide.
A scammer, on the other hand, will do their best to divert your attention from the fact that their “business” does not exist in any legitimate database anywhere. These guys will go to insane lengths to avoid providing their information. Some common tricks range from pretending they “forgot” to bring their papers when meeting you, through actually placing Photoshopped stamps of relevant agencies on their websites, to even trying to steal someone else’s DOT number and passing it off as their own.