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Avoiding Moving Company Scams

Image: Gpointstudio - Freepik

Being a homeowner is one of the greatest privileges one could have; while we would like to put down permanent roots and stay in one place, for some of us, that isn’t the case. Moving to a new home comes with enough challenges already; the move itself should not be one of them.

Unfortunately, as it happens with any type of service, people can fall victim to being scammed by the same company they are trusting to handle and transport their property.

Every year the Better Business Bureau (BBB) receives thousands of reports from people getting scammed by moving companies. These range from requiring upfront payment to holding your items for ransom.

To avoid falling prey to this type of situation, in the following, you will learn what to watch out for when choosing the right moving company.

What are the signs of an illegitimate moving company?

One of the most prominent signs that you should look out for is how they conduct themselves before the move and if they partake in any business practices that would make you raise an eyebrow in suspicion. For example:

● If they start offering you quotes without having even set foot in your house once

● If they ask you to sign any obscure or vague contracts

● If they request for you to make upfront deposits before a job

● If they take your money and refuse to complete the job or disappear

● If they give you a low offer to hook you and then bring up charges that were not discussed before

● If they request that payments be made in cash

○ If you pay a direct deposit, see if you are depositing the money to the business account or personal account. (Legitimate business should never ask to deposit payment to a specific individual’s account)

Image: Freepik

These are some red flags to look out for, but what happens if you have already hired movers and they are demanding you pay them extra, apart from the agreed-upon price, while still holding onto your furniture and refusing to return it until you pay?

This is called a “hostage load,” and it is a crime. If the moving company you hired refuses to release your items until they receive payment, it is time to get law enforcement involved.

Protect yourself from moving scams

Now with all this in mind, your next question might be, how can you protect yourself? That is where the beauty of the internet comes in.

When it comes time to choose, you should first make a list of every moving company you are interested in hiring and look them up on the business registry on the BBB. You will have access to any reviews and complaints made by past customers as well as check company ratings which range from F to A+.

Next, check if the company is registered and has its licenses up-to-date on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. Once you have this information, it will serve you well to corroborate it by:

● Verifying the business address before requesting service

● Use word of mouth and recommendations to understand their professionalism better.

● Make sure that every step of the job is done in person and is well documented in the contract. Handshake deals and over-the-phone deals never work well for the paying customer.

Once you’ve done your due diligence and are still not given the agreed-upon service, you have the right to make a formal complaint to the company itself, the BBB, FMCSA, and even your local state agencies if it comes to that. Suppose the moving company you employed has partaken in unprofessional illegitimate activities that have significantly affected you personally. In that case, it is recommended that you seek legal counsel to resolve the matter.

The next time you have to make a big move, be it across town or the country, it is best to take every precaution and do your homework, especially when requesting a big service that involves many moving pieces.

The aforementioned information was provided by the good folks at

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