Top 5 Moving Scams Ranked/ How to Spot an Unethical Moving Company (Before It’s Too Late) ⚠️

If you were getting scammed by a moving company, this is what it might look like. 

Plus, read details on what a good moving company will do and a ranking of the scams covered.

The Bait and Switch

Put yourself in this scenario:

This is a situation where the movers switch up your contract by increasing the price of your move before your belongings are packed up. This scam occurs so close to the move that you feel as if there are no other options than to pay the new, higher price. Some movers will even cancel the move the day before if you do not agree to their new stipulations.

Tell-tale signs of this scam

  • Changes to your contract in the days leading up to the move or even the day of the move cause an increase in cost
  • Pressure to accept new terms and higher price
  • Feelings of entrapment

With trusted movers

  • Date of move is very rarely changed
  • Move will not be canceled
  • Transparency about potential last-minute pricing changes before anything is signed
  • Overall open communication and intent to provide good service

Getting out of this scam: Flip a coin and decide to run a risk of further issues, or call a reputable moving company and hope that they have availability for your job.

The Low-Ball

Put yourself in this scenario:

So let’s say your contract has remained unchanged and you aren’t trapped into changing your deal. Good! However, you’re not in the clear yet. Unfortunately, another common scam people are often hit with are additional fees not originally discussed. While the price you’re paying the moving company is again higher than you originally thought you would pay, the difference in this scam lies in where the increase is able to occur. The scamming company comes up with new fees not previously discussed, such as a packing fee you find out about after they pack all your items or additional charges for cubic footage when they said they charged by weight. These add up so be sure to confirm your contract the day of against your original contract to ensure surprise fees aren’t snuck in.

Tell-tale signs of this scam

  • Pricing based on cubic footage
  • Company avoids explaining details of estimate or quote
  • Movers have you sign a bunch of paperwork before starting to load, including a blank change order
  • Movers mention “there’s more here than what we thought”
  • Charging for help with packing when it was not a part of the original contract

With trusted movers

  • Pricing based on metric that can be easily verified such as weight or time to move
  • Includes packing costs in original contract
  • Maintain open communication

Getting out of this scam: Call the Department of Transportation and hope that they can help you out of this bind.  Call the local police, but they won’t want to intervene. Read up on the “Rights and Responsibilities When you Move” booklet and demand the company follow the rules.

Hostage Situation

Put yourself in this scenario:

You agree to a certain price with the movers. Your belongings are packed up and in the mover’s truck. Everything seems fine. But now, the movers refuse to return anything of yours unless you pay a new, jacked up price. Your goods are held captive, and you now must pay two to three times the agreed upon/original price to get your belongings.

Tell-tale signs of this scam

  • Conflicting or misleading information on the estimate
  • Changes in the contract deal after goods are packed
  • Mover’s refusal to return goods
  • Lack of options but to pay new cost in cash or money order
  • Feelings of entrapment

With trusted movers

  • Detailed inventory list and estimate provided
  • Up-front and open communication of common charges that could potentially occur
  • No surprises

Getting out of this scam: 1. Break out your checkbook, the mover’s estimate has language requiring you to pay more money for more services, and their estimate was based on your description of your household. 2. Call the police, but they are unlikely to intervene as this is a contract or ‘civil’ issue.

Late... or Never

Put yourself in this scenario:

So your things are all loaded up safely and you wave a temporary goodbye to the truck, excited to see it in exactly six days like the movers said you would. Except six days come and go and your possessions are “still on their way yet” or “stuck behind someone else’s stuff” so you can’t get anything until theirs is out. Or, the truck has been impounded by the Department of Transportation for a licensing violation with all of your items aboard. But, the worst of all of these is when the scammers had no intention of returning your items whatsoever. They are here to take your money, any of your belongings they desire, and abandon the rest. If you’re lucky, (lucky is very relative here) you may be able to find where your items were dumped and recover them for a sky-high price from a storage facility. If not, good luck finding a company that suddenly no longer exists, and have fun purchasing replacements for everything you own! If any of these situations occur, you may be waiting at least another couple weeks to get your belongings back, if you ever do.

Tell-tale signs of this scam

  • Exact date promised for delivery
  • Weeks of waiting
  • Company stops answering their phone when you call
  • Excuses by the company as to why they cannot get your belongings to you (especially without a concrete plan to fix the situation)

With trusted movers

  • Range of dates given to expect delivery within
  • Compensation provided and taught how to file for in the case of delays beyond the given range

Getting out of this scam: Hope that the company will be honest with you about the location of your belongings. Get ready to hire another moving company to complete the move for you. You’re likely to have damaged items and no recourse with the original moving company.

No Coverage, No Claim

Put yourself in this scenario:

You called around and got estimates from several moving companies. One even came to your house to see what was being moved. One company said coverage is included in their quote and the price looked OK. Now things have been delivered and your prized grandmother clock was damaged. You filed a claim and were offered $30.00 for what will be a much more expensive repair.

Tell-tale signs of this scam

  • Your estimate only included $.60 per pound of coverage
  • Your estimate encourages you to buy insurance from a third party
  • Your estimate doesn’t include the cost of the mover providing replacement coverage themselves.

With trusted movers

  • Your estimate only included $.60 per pound of coverage
  • Your estimate encourages you to buy insurance from a third party
  • Your estimate doesn’t include the cost of the mover providing replacement coverage themselves.

Getting out of this scam: Doubt you will! You likely signed paperwork limiting the movers liability for loss or damage.  You can always try your homeowners insurance company to try and recover the cost of repair.

Additional Red Flags

  • Demands of a deposit upfront
  • Demands for cash
  • Move brokers (they find a moving company and outsource the move to them)
  • Requests to sign partially completed or blank contracts
  • No written estimate is provided
  • Estimate is given without a physical or guided video inspection of the goods to be moved
  • No protection plan or insurance offered
  • Mover says their insurance covers everything
  • On move day, moving truck is unmarked and unbranded or is a rental
  • Company website does not provide license and registration information
  • Company’s location address is not a warehouse or office, is not kept up, or doesn’t exist
  • Claims policy is nonexistent or they don’t know how it works
  • Contract is not detailed
  • Phone is answered with generic “Mover’s company/Mover’s” instead of company’s name
  • Charges are decided after packing and loading everything
  • Mover states more items are present than estimated (leads to higher price than quoted)
  • Not given a copy of the federally required Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet and a copy of FMCSA’s Ready to Move brochure

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