According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are over 40 million moves every year. Fortunately, the majority of moves are made without incident; however, the number of complaints against moving companies has increased steadily over the past decade, with a 25% increase since 2014.
The best protection against being scammed is to be a well-informed consumer. You might want to start by checking out www.ProtectYourMove.gov and www.MovingScam.com to find a mover and their complaint history.
Here is how to reduce your risk of scams.
Prevent ID Theft. The risk of identity theft can increase during a move, especially if you are selling your old house. During your move, transport your sensitive documents such as passports, birth certificates and wills yourself along with your property deeds, car titles and insurance policies. If you cannot personally transport your computers, use strong passwords.
Be Wary of Low-ball Bids. A common scenario: You get a lowball estimate from a moving company, but once they have loaded your furniture on their truck they change the charges, sometimes doubling or tripling their original quote. If you balk at the number, they simply refuse to give you your belongings until you agree to the inflated price.
The Bait and Switch. The original estimate is based on the weight of your goods, but when the bill arrives you are told that the cubic feet of your goods exceeded the estimate. Again, the movers hold your belongings until you agree to pay the inflated price.
The Late or Never Delivery. Your belongings arrive weeks late. If the mover has a licensing violation, their truck is impounded in transit by the Department of Transportation with all your contents on board.
Read/Understand Your Contract. Your moving contract should spell out all the details of the transaction, including price, delivery date, needed supplies and a complete list of your possessions. It should clearly specify there are no additional costs, like a driver’s fee or mandatory tips.
Tips from www.realtor.com
- Do not give a deposit. Reputable moving companies don’t ask you to pay anything up front.
- Do not sign a partial contract. Never sign a blank or incomplete contract.
- Do not pay cash. If you do, you’ll have no record of the paid transaction and the company can disappear with your belongings, pretending that no transaction ever happened.
- Get three competitive estimates. Most moving estimates come in within 15- percent of each other. If one estimate is much lower than the others, do not hire that company.
- Ask your real estate agent for a recommendation. Realtors are on the front lines and hear all the gossip. They are usually the best source for a moving company.