In a new report, the Better Business Bureau says nationally they receive more than 13,000 complaints about moving scams, including price gouging, destruction of goods, even taking hostage of customers’ possessions. The report includes tips on finding reputable movers.
Some of the stories BBB tells include families who got an estimate from a mover, paid a deposit, and then having the estimated increased by sometimes twice the original cost estimate.
Some scam movers promise pickup and delivery dates but fulfill those promises.
There are laws covering prices movers can charge, but fine print in contracts signed by the mover and the customer may contain exclusions that release movers from any guarantees. So the payment demanded by the scammer might increase once the truck is loaded and the customer feels committed.
Some movers tack on additional fees after a customer’s goods have been loaded or when a loaded trailer arrives at its destination. If the customer refuses to pay extra, the driver may leave with the customer’s possessions still in the trailer.
Just finding a reputable mover is fraught with uncertainty. Online search results may be skewed to display what appears to be a well-known national company only to turn out to be a shady mover. Such scammers use names that sound like honest moving companies, claim to be local, claim to have been in business for years, the list goes on and on.
Finding an honest mover
The BBB says careful research goes a long way to finding an honest moving company.
- You can do something as simple as searching the mover’s name plus the word “scam” to sit if there have been complaints or bad reviews.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation has an online tool to search using a company’s USDOT number or its name to see its safety and fitness records. Remember, scammers are able to get USDOT numbers as well as honest movers.
- Or use the BBB’s website for their list of accredited movers.
- Use the website of the American Moving and Storage Association to find a mover.
Get at least three in-person or online estimates. Most scammers won’t meet with you in person.
- Get the estimate in weight, not volume, such as cubit feet. Scammers prefer to give estimates in volume, which usually is a number that can be manipulated.
Get full value replacement and liability protection.
- Interstate movers are required to offer coverage, but spend a little more for full value replaceement.
Be wary of big deposit demands or cash demands. Honest movers have you pay on delivery.