BBB Scam Alert: Avoid moving scams this National Moving Month
OMAHA, Neb. (Press Release) - For countless Americans, the month of May signifies a major transition in their lives.
Whether it is graduating from high school or college, starting a new job, or receiving that highly anticipated acceptance letter, May marks the beginning of the busiest time in the nation for moving. So much so, that the month was designated National Moving Month in 1997.
Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) fielded nearly 1,100 complaints against moving companies last year. BBB’s Scam Tracker had reports of more than $730,000 lost to moving scammers, a 216% increase from 2020.
As we approach mid-May, this is a good time for consumers to educate themselves on how to avoid victimization by unscrupulous companies, and smooth out the famously rocky process of relocating their residence.
Common moving company scams Here are some of the most reported scams each year by those who moved:
· The no-shows – After getting a quote and paying a deposit, the mover never shows.
· The over-weight trick – Once the truck is loaded, the mover claims the load is heavier than expected and wants an additional fee, usually much more than the estimate.
· The disappearing scam – All seems to go smoothly until the truck fails to appear at the destination. Either your things are gone, or the company demands an additional fee to have them delivered. Your possessions are held hostage.
How to move into the driving seat
Consumers don’t have to let scam moving companies drive them into trouble. You can take control of the process by doing the following:
· Research the company. Check them out at bbb.org to find their business profile which is the marketplace history of a company.
· Examine their website. No physical address or information about registration and insurance means they may not be trustworthy. Once you get a physical address, drive by it to confirm, or at least do a Google Street View check on them.
· Visit the website for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) where you can enter their license number to read complaints. If they have no license number, rule them out and find another company.
· Go to the American Trucking Association’s MSC (Moving and Storage Conference) website at moving.org. Use the pull-down menu to get useful tips and information.
· Don’t settle for phone estimates. An on-site inspection is best. Get it in writing. Also, get estimates from more than one company.
· Never pay more than 15% of total costs upfront.
· Don’t pay with cash. If possible, use a credit card for extra protection, should a dispute arise later.
· Rental trucks may indicate a problem.
· Be suspicious of any unusual request. If they want a large down payment or full payment in advance, watch out.
· Get everything in writing. Never sign anything with blank pages or large blank areas.
· Consider that breakage is very common. Pay extra upfront for the full replacement value protection.
· Don’t be shy about asking questions. You are entrusting them with your prized possessions, and you deserve assurance that they can be trusted. Ask about their licensing and check it with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ask if they subcontract work to other companies.
· Have an inventory of your belongings. Photos and videos are a good way to keep record of what goes. Label the boxes, including specifically what is in each box.
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