How To Spot And Avoid Moving Scams?

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The moving industry is much more larger than most people think. The revenue is estimated at approximately $86 billion per year! According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, almost 31 million Americans relocate on yearly basis. If you would like to know, this means that over 15 million American households move each year. That’s a huge job market if you ask me.

Then we shouldn’t be surprised that some sort of moving incidents and scams occur from time to time. Luckily, this isn’t so common, but the number of complaints against moving companies did increase over the past few years.

To learn how to spot and avoid moving scams you’ll need to do your homework thoroughly. Do complete background research for several different moving companies, and get yourself well-informed about the quality of their services and prices before you contact them. 

Here is a comprehensive list of all possible moving scams that might happen to you if you aren’t careful enough.

Most Common Types Of Moving Scams

The FMSCA reports show us that the most common complaints toward moving companies are:

  • not having the valid licenses;
  • shipments being delayed, damaged, lost, or retained without any valid reason;
  • overcharges. 

To be able to report the scam you first need to learn how to recognize them, so let’s start.

Phone estimation is a big no-no

You must be aware that no moving company can’t give you an accurate estimation over the phone. No matter how experienced the agent is, forming a price estimation based on your words and perception isn’t professional.

Usually, people aren’t that good at self-estimating, and you always have more things than you think you do. Moving prices are based on the mileage, the amount of room your belongings require in the moving truck, and the weight of your belongings. This can’t be estimated over the phone! 

A trustworthy moving company will send an estimator to your address asap. 

I will just take a glance at your belongings – a type of estimator

If the estimator doesn’t take the time to thoroughly inspect all your rooms and belongings, he is trying to lowball your estimation! This way you will end up having your cargo on hold by the “moving company” who requests you to pay additional hundreds or thousands of dollars because you have more belongings than they estimated.

A good estimator will ask you a lot of questions, even those that sound stupid like – will you eat all the food from the pantry or you will donate it? This will make a price difference, considering that food can add some significant weight they will charge you.

Constant name change 

Moving companies that don’t have insurance or a valid license will use this trick to stay in the business. Make sure that when you choose a company, you pick out the one that has a local address, a phone number that works (call them), an office space, and to have all the necessary paperwork. 

By federal law, moving companies are required to give you a handbook provided by the FMCSA called  “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” while you are still making the moving plans with the agent. If they do not give you this, run.

The reputable moving agencies do not demand large deposits and cash payments upfront

A good moving company will never ask you to pay a large deposit in advance. Or to pay upfront with cash only. If you do that, then the chances are big that you won’t see your cargo any time soon.

If the agency insists on paying some money in advance, use the credit card so you’ll have control of your money

The contract is obligatory!

Don’t fall for sugarcoated words no matter how good and safe the moving company seems to you. A good moving company will provide you with a contract that includes all the necessary information such as – the moving date, pickup time, delivery date, your estimation and all included extra fees you may need to pay (elevator fee, a shuttle fee, etc.).

Never sign a blank contract. Don’t be lazy read the contract from top to bottom, the safety of your personal belongings is at risk, as well as your bank account. If something is missing fail a claim.

The moving company must explain to you the type of insurance they provide!

Two different types of liability coverage apply and you should know in detail how they function and what is the amount of protection provided by them. Those are:

  • Full value protection – This is the most comprehensive insurance you can choose. Your cargo will be transported under your mover’s full value level of liability. In case something gets damaged, lost, or destroyed the company will need to repair it if possible, replace it if it’s destroyed, or offer you a refund you the exact amount of money for the item.
  • The alternative liability – In this case, you’ll get minimal protection coverage of 60 cents per pound per article. Lost or damaged items are refunded based on the pound weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents. 

If your mover does not provide the handbook issued by the FMCSA and refuses to explain what liability level they provide to you, then you should change the moving company.

How To Avoid Moving Scams Summary

Keep in mind that many moving companies won’t take the responsibility for the damaged items if you do not fail a claim within nine months from the delivery date. After that, they will need 30 days to acknowledge the problem, and 120 days more to address the problem (refuse or refund).

To make sure you are dealing with a trustworthy moving company don’t hesitate to ask a lot of different questions. This way you’ll be able to spot and avoid moving scams simply by seeing if they are willing to cooperate and if they are sneaky and avoid telling you all the necessary details.

We at iMOVE NYC are transparent and chatty, so make sure you give us a call or send us an email with all your questions so we can explain to you how we will manage your relocation.

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