9 Common Moving Scams to Avoid


There are many people who prey on others during their most stressful times. Movers are no exceptions, here are some of the top ways to avoid getting caught up in moving scams. The best way to avoid the moving scams is to do it all yourself, but if you do go with a mover here are a few things to avoid.

Deposit Request

If your mover is asking for a large deposit or cash up front, avoid them. You are putting everything you own into their hands, if you pay them ahead of time then there is no telling what they will do with your belongings or if you will ever see them again. The only exception would be on popular weekends such as Labor Day, then some movers will ask for a small security deposit just to ensure that you are actually committed to that weekend. After all, they don’t want you to back out last minute when they could have easily picked up a different job.
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Cash Payment

Walk away from any mover that insists on a cash or check payment only.Yes, accepting credit cards costs the mover a small amount of cash, but it also protects you. It’s much easier to deny payment on a credit card payment if you find that they mishandled your property than it is on a check.

Over-the-Phone Quote

When you’re initially looking for a mover, a very rough quote over the phone, just to narrow things down is one thing, but if they don’t insist on doing a walk-through before giving you a final quote then find a different mover. A good moving company calculates the cost of your move based off of a combination of factors including distance, weight and volume. You can’t estimate all of that over the phone, sight-unseen.

No-Questions Asked Estimate

Almost as bad as the over-the-phone quote. A moving company’s estimator needs to ask you questions and examine things to truly assess what they will be packing. They will ask you questions about what you plan to bring with you, including things like your canned goods. A good estimator will look closely at your furniture, after all an oak dining set might look similar to one from Ikea, but there is a significant weight difference, which will affect your price. If they don’t ask probing questions and look in your cupboards then they aren’t doing their job.You want to avoid any type of quick quote because you don’t want your belongings to be held hostage because they under estimated the weight and volume of your household goods.

Name Changers

There are a lot of companies out there that manage to dodge the bad review bullet and scam charges by constantly changing their name. Ask to see their license and insurance, if the name is different on either of those then call it off. Changing a companies name is how a lot of them avoid BBB and online complaints. You also want to make sure that the license has a local address, or at least one that they had previously disclosed to you. Be sure to get all of the names that the moving company ‘does business as’ as well as their Federal number. If anything is remotely fishy then look for a different mover.

Lack of Good References

Ask the company for at least 3 references that they have moved within the last three to six months and call those references. Ask the references pointed questions to find out what they did and did not like about the movers. Be sure to ask some small questions as well such as the name the person they were dealing with, how much glassware was moved, truck color etc.. Some movers will provide false references, you need to feel them out to ensure that they actually did move and that they did indeed use those movers.

Blank Contract

Never sign a blank contract! This should be common sense, but it is amazing how many people will do it. The contract should include your estimated price and your moving dates.

Generic Inventory

On the day of the move the company should be taking a completed inventory of everything they packed up. Generic descriptions like ‘office supplies’ should not be acceptable unless you know that the box is full of useless stuff that you wouldn’t miss. That ‘office supplies’ box could contain a computer that may or may not make it your final destination. You can’t claim damage or loss on things that are not on the inventory.

Fine Print

No matter what you think your contract says, read it. Your contract may be ‘Guaranteed’ or ‘not to exceed’, but if you read the fine print there is probably a small clause that says the price is subject to change if the weight is more than estimated. If you want an iron clad guarantee then you better make sure it is there in writing.

Moving doesn’t have to be stressful if you follow a few simple tips and avoid the scams.

Photo Credit: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier