Worst Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them – Don’t Let a Company Rip You Off

Posted Moving Essentials / May 12, 2020
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

When changing the place you live in, the last thing you need is for a relocation company to rip you off. Even though they shouldn’t exist at all, moving scams are not so rare and you need to be aware of them. If you learn how to find a reputable team of professionals, your relocation will go smoothly. Here are some tips on how to spot a disreputable business from miles away. Save your time, money, and nerves by knowing how to avoid fraud and deceit while ordering relocation services.

What Are the Most Common Moving Scams That You Can Fall Prey To?

When it comes to relocations, choosing who to work with to get the services you need isn’t an easy task. You need to be sure that your money won’t be wasted, let alone that you need to pay more than was asked in the first place or pay for a service that was never delivered. Don’t let this happen to you and save yourself from the moving stress by getting to know the most common fraudulent relocation schemes.

The most frequent things fraudulent businesses do when they want to deceive their new clients:

Asking for a deposit or upfront cash payment

This is one of the most frequent schemes of unreliable movers. They will ask you to pay for the service before they even deliver it, and then they won’t show up on the day of the move and become unreachable via phone or email. Since you made a cash payment, there will be no proof of transaction, so they can act like you never paid for anything.

Giving an estimate based on insufficient information

Real-deal movers cannot know how much your relocation will cost if they don’t have all the information and details, like the dimensions of the goods you’re shipping, their weight, and condition. Fragile items, antiques, and other valuables need a particular way of packing – crating, which also adds to the cost. If someone gives you an estimate before asking about specifics, you can be sure that they aren’t doing their job professionally.

Offering a very low price

A sweet-sounding price tag for your upcoming move is undoubtedly desirable, but keep in mind that relocation costs can be high, especially from one state to another. There is a considerable chance that a low rate is part of a non-binding agreement that is very likely bound to change during or after the move. When you ask how much do movers cost and receive a very low price, that is a serious red flag. You can be sure that the new one will be much higher, and you’ll need to continue your search.

Giving ballparks

Fraudulent businesses prefer to provide you with a bid, rather than with an exact number. Hearing that your move can cost somewhere between two to five thousand dollars doesn’t really mean anything, and you can’t be sure about how high your expenses will be in the end. If the person who answered your call can’t tell you the price when you have all the information about your move, you should avoid hiring them.

Not disclosing additional fees

Movers charge standard services and additional ones. If their sales agent doesn’t explain to you what’s part of the standard rate and what is an extra cost, you can be sure that they are trying to scam you. Without emphasizing that something costs extra, that agent can ask for more money from you without a pardon. Note that standard services vary from one mover to another, but the usual ones are: disassembling the bigger items, packing them, loading all of your belongings and relocating them, unloading, reassembling, free storage services for one month, and moving insurance.

Working under a fake name

Some businesses find the way to stay on the market even if they’re not operating legally by changing their name frequently so that once they scam someone, that person can’t find them anymore and hold them accountable.

Answering phone calls with a generic name

Deciding to contact a relocation company via phone and hearing that the agent answers without specifying who you have reached is another sign of a scam. Disreputable companies use this method of answering calls because they changed their name or the same agents work for more than one business, lying to the clients that they are legitimate separate companies.

Asking to sign a blank or partial contract

No matter how good the deal sounds, don’t trust anyone until you see all the terms and conditions in written form. Partial contracts are also risky – they require you to believe that the company will fill it out later. Make sure you see and agree to all the terms from top to bottom.

Not providing enough true information about insurance

Every relocation business must have minimum liability insurance if they have a DOT number. That means that your items will be insured, but for a small amount of money. If you hear that they include the premium insurance like the full replacement one in your estimate, know that it’s not true. There must be a process behind every premium insurance, and it must be offered as an option for you to choose, not as a must-have.

Not doing an on-site or video estimate

Fraudulent businesses don’t send their estimators to your home. That is the most accurate way of providing a client with a quote. In most cases, if you’re moving from a sizable residence, always ask for an on-site estimate. There is no other way to pinpoint a quote without it, and fraudulent businesses avoid that even in such cases. If you ask for someone to come to your home and take a look or carry out a live video estimate, and they tell you that they don’t or can’t do that, then don’t do business with them.

Duration of the quote

If an agent tells you that the given quote is locked down forever, know that that is also not true. With the market being as it is, quotes have a duration, and a rate can’t stay the same throughout the year. There are premium dates, and there’s the busy relocation season, which lasts from the beginning of May until the end of September.

If You Hire a Shady Company, the Final Cost of the Move Can Be High

Disreputable companies have a method that works for them – they tell the customer one price at the beginning of the move that sounds great, and the customer agrees to sign the contract. By the time the move is done, the price goes up, sometimes even up to 100%.

When the rate depends on what the mover calculates, and you don’t have any impact on it, you are at risk. This is most likely to happen with someone that calculates quotes based on weight – it is a very unreliable and imprecise method of acquiring a quote. It’s best to find movers that give you control over the amount of money you’ll pay by calculating it based on the list of items you’re relocating. That way, you’ll know that when you add something to the inventory list, the price will go up, and when you remove an item, it will go down. The inventory list will help you determine how much do movers cost.

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How to Know That You’re Dealing With a Scam Company Before the Movers Come Over

It is of utmost importance for your wallet and nerves to realize that you’re talking to frauds before you sign anything. There are tricks to see that you’re talking to disreputable businesses and to prevent damage from happening. The moving industry is customer-based, and the most important thing for every professional is that the client is satisfied with the provided services. As experts in this field, we can help out. Your items will be safe, and you’ll have a smooth relocation with someone you trust by following our tips.


Checking the Mover’s Background Online Is One of the Most Useful Tools

Search the web and try to find as much information as you can about the movers that you want to contact. See the rates on Yelp, BBB, and Facebook, check their website, and their history of doing business. Read the reviews and see what other people found good about their service and what did they highlight as the bad part. Knowing other people’s previous experiences can help you make an informed decision.

Unreliable Mover Won’t Have a DoT Number

Every legit transportation firm must be registered and licensed, so check online or ask if they have a DoT number. If they do, you’re most likely safe from being scammed. Relocation businesses must also be bonded and insured. Certain companies have a DBA (doing business as), which is also legitimate.

Ask the Moving Companies Everything Related to Your Move

Once you get in touch with a relocation specialist, don’t hesitate to ask anything that you want to know about your move. Sales representatives must be dedicated to you if they work for a reputable firm, in which case they will take time to explain every step of the process and share some moving tips and great moving hacks if needed.

You should know how much they charge in any type of situation, what their standard service is, and what counts as an additional charge. Ask about possible hidden fees like packing, fuel, handling of the heavy items, etc. There are also items movers won’t move, and you need to know what is on their list. If you’re planning to move a gun safe or some other heavy and expensive item like a piano, ask the movers how they go about it and what you will be charged for.

Make Sure That You Know What You Need to Pack

If you decide that you want to pack on your own, which would include boxes, smaller furniture pieces, and other goods in your household, try to be as thorough as possible when packing. It can also be an opportunity for scammers to overcharge you for packing material and labor that wasn’t previously specified. Also, keep the most commonly forgotten things to pack in mind. Those could also be a reason for scam businesses to pump up your costs.

Read All the Lines of Your Contract

When signing anything, you’re supposed to read and understand everything that’s written – even the fine print. If you don’t understand something, ask the sales agent, and if they don’t take the time to explain, don’t sign it.

Don’t Forget That Professional Companies Typically Charge More Than Fraudulent Ones

Have you ever talked to a sales representative and heard a number that sounded too high compared to the prices some other companies presented you with? Know that a professional relocation company includes everything in its initial price, so there will be no additional fees. This way, you have a clear picture of the cost you’re about to pay and calculate your relocating budget without any surprises. Always search for a company that provides guaranteed quotes. Low prices you hear often become high once they include all the costs you didn’t know about. Don’t fall for that trick, especially if you’re looking for the cheapest way to move out of state.

Hire a Moving Company Near You for Your Move, Long-Distance or Local

Hiring a company based in your town or anywhere near you is always the best option when you’re looking for someone to provide you with relocation services, whether it be a local move or perhaps a long-distance one. Find a company that people trust and leave good reviews for. With them, you can transport your belongings, but you can also order auto shipping if needed. Relocation companies that do both local and long-distance moves are trustworthy – you can tell that they do an excellent job by the number of services they offer to their customers. Shop around, get different quotes, ask all you want to know, and pick the one you can trust. Working with professionals always pays off.

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