Moving is one of the most exciting and stressful milestones you will encounter in life. An important part of the moving process is securing a mover to help you with your relocation. No one wants to break the bank when moving, but it is worth the investment to pick a trustworthy movers. State and local authorities work together to try and root out fraudulent movers, however it can be hard to spot all of them. Getting caught in a moving scam will ruin your big moving day, so let’s go over some ways to protect yourself and spot moving fraud.
Everyone wants to get the best deal, but if a company’s estimate seems too good to be true, it very well might be. One of the most popular scams occurs when a mover low balls their bid, but then vastly overcharges on the final invoice. Some of these unscrupulous companies will then hold your items hostage until you pay an exorbitant amount of money to get your items back. Perhaps one of the biggest tip offs that a company might be scamming you is the price. Shop around and get multiple quotes. This will make it easy to spot outlying bids. If you find one or two bids are significantly lower than the majority, it is probably a sign that such a low number will not be the final cost.
Moving companies that do not distinguish themselves or do not give relevant information should be avoided. If a moving company does not have a website or permanent address, it is probably best to walk away. Reputable companies will advertise and provide a concrete address as well as their company name. If you call and are met with a person or machine that identifies themselves simply as “Movers” or “Moving Company”, you also should probably stay away. If these important aspects are missing, it might be a sign that these people do not want you to be able to contact or find them.
While not all moves require you to have an in-home assessment, if the moving company refuses one, then you probably have a problem. Most moving companies are all too happy to come and assess your items because it gives them a better understanding of what and how much they will need to move, helping them determine manpower and hours for an accurate price. One way to protect yourself on the price is to get a binding quote. When you have decided which mover to use, getting a binding quote will ensure that the quote reflects what your final payment will be. Reputable companies should not refuse a binding quote. A binding quote typically necessitates an in-home inspection, so if they do not want to give you one, you will want to reconsider using them.
Another red flag is when a moving company demands a large deposit or sum of cash up front. While some companies may require a deposit, it is typically a smaller sum, perhaps 10% or 20% of what the quoted final cost will be. If movers demand a large amount of money or even the entire moving cost before they have begun your move, they are probably not trustworthy. It is possible that they will take off once receiving the cash or deposit, or they may hold your goods hostage and demand more money latter in order for you to get your items back.
It is imperative that you do not sign any blank or incomplete documents. You want to make sure that all documents are complete before you sign them and reflective of the terms you and your mover have agreed upon. If movers are wanting you to sign incomplete documents, do not sign them and do not let them load your belongings onto the truck. Additionally, you will want to make sure you are provided a written and signed estimate. Whether this is a binding or nonbinding estimate, it is imperative that your quote is in writing so that you have documentation if there is a later dispute over the cost. If their are any changes in your move, like additional items to be moved, you should have your mover draw up a revised estimate that you and your mover approve and then sign. Again, all this should be done before any of your belongings are loaded onto a truck.
If you are making an interstate move, federal law requires moving companies to provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When you Move” and the FMCSA’s “Ready to Move” brochure during your planning stage. These important resources will help you to prepare for your move and provide you with important information about your interstate move. If a company does not furnish these materials, you should not hire them. If they do provide you them, you should still make sure to look out for any other red flags that could pop up before you move.
When picking a mover its is important to trust your gut and know the warning signs of fraudulent movers. Doing research on reviews of companies can shed some light on whether you should entrust your move with those movers or not. If you encounter any red flags, or even if you do not feel that a moving company is best for you, walk away and find a different mover. Being able to trust your movers will help your relocation go smoothly and will help you relax, at least a little, on your moving day.