Scam Under Investigation:

Moving Scams: Red Flags to Look Out For & How to Protect Yourself

Moving house can be expensive—the last thing you want is to be screwed over by your moving company.


Verified.org
Updated 31 January 2022
Moving Scams: Red Flags to Look Out For & How to Protect Yourself
Scam Under Investigation:
Key Finding

Sketchy moving companies add on extra fees and sometimes don't even show up on moving day.


Key Risk

You not only risk losing hundreds of dollars but you could also be left without movers.

Sections on this page
  1. Fake Moving Companies
  2. Misquoting and Bad Estimates
  3. Best Practices When Hiring Moving Companies
  4. What to Do After Falling for Moving Scams
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you’ve just found a new home to rent or buy, hiring a moving company can take out a lot of the stress related to moving. Unfortunately, however, a moving company can sometimes do the opposite—cause more stress than it’s worth. This is especially true if you’re being targeted by any of the common moving scams we see here in the U.S. 

Two of the most common moving scams involve:

  • Fake moving companies
  • Misquoting and bad estimates

Fake Moving Companies

When looking for a moving company, the first thing most people do is search online. Unfortunately, the internet opens you up to several scams. One of the most common moving scams to be aware of is fake moving companies with fake websites and social media accounts. 

How these  Moving Scams Work

  1. You find a moving company online that looks like a great deal. After getting quotes from various companies, you decide on one that is significantly cheaper than the others.
  2. You book the move and pay the deposit, as requested.
    • In some cases, the moving company will ask for the deposit via cash, wire transfer, or another untraceable or irreversible method.
  3. The day of your move comes, and you wait for the moving truck to show up.
  4. The truck never arrives. You try calling the company, and they don’t pick up the phone—they may even disconnect their phone line entirely.
  5. Not only are you severely inconvenienced by not having movers show up as scheduled, but you’ve lost your deposit, which could be hundreds of dollars. 

Red Flags of Fake Moving Companies

  • Negative or very few reviews on sites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, or Google Reviews. 
  • Reviews that seem fake (e.g., little information). 
  • Questionable payment methods (e.g., only accepting wire transfer via MoneyGram, accepting payments via gift cards). 
  • Sketchy-looking websites (or no website at all) (e.g., poor design, broken site elements, spelling, and grammatical errors). 
  • Requiring an upfront deposit. 

Misquoting and Bad Estimates

Another scam to be careful of when using a moving company is getting bad quotes. The difference between this scam and the previous scam involving fake moving companies is that the companies are legitimate. They are genuine moving companies that will get your belongings from point A to point B. 

However, they try to get away with charging you more than they should be or sneaking in additional costs after you’ve already agreed to a specific price.

How These Moving Scams Work

  1. You receive a quote for a move and confirm the move date, time, and price. 
  2. When the moving company arrives, they have you sign the work order/contract, and you realize the total cost is much higher than what you had initially agreed upon. 
  3. The movers inform you that the cost is to cover additional costs, which could include things like:
    • Additional mileage covered. 
    • Extra moving boxes/materials. 
    • Weight. (Unless there is freight involved, you shouldn't be charged for weight.)
  4. You pay the extra cost, which is much higher than you agreed. 

Red Flags of This Scam

  • Moving companies that are quick to quote you without asking questions about your move. 
  • Extra costs are added to your move on the day of moving.     
    • In some cases, moving companies may adjust the total cost to take into account the extra moving time they need, but the company should make you well aware that this could happen. You shouldn’t be charged for other things like mileage and equipment, as this should have been included in your initial quote. 
  • A company that alters the bill of lading or shipment papers to add more weight than what your shipment actually weighs. (Also known as weight bumping.)
  • Negative reviews on sites like Yelp. 

How the 110% Rule Protects You

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) protects you from moving scams via the 110% Rule. It states that moving companies cannot make you pay more than 110% of the original quote before delivering your things. 

Best Practices When Hiring Moving Companies

To protect yourself from moving scams, you should always follow these best practices:

  •  Get quotes from different moving companies.
  •  Read customer reviews on sites like Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, and FMCSA.
  •  Read the contract closely—make sure there’s no missing information, especially information about liability.
  •  Be wary about quotes that seem excessively lower than other quotes you’re getting—quotes that are too good to be true usually are. 
  •  Be wary about a moving company that doesn’t ask you enough questions about the move.
  •  Use a company on the American Moving and Storage Association’s (AMSA) list of Pro-Mover-certified and long-distance movers. 
  •  Don’t use companies that only accept payment in cash, direct wire transfer, or money order
    • You can usually get a discount by paying in cash, but you shouldn’t trust companies that don’t accept payment by credit/debit card. 
  •  Don’t use a moving company that doesn’t have a company email account or website (e.g., they use an @gmail.com address instead of a company email address). 
  •  Don’t let pushy salespeople convince you to sign a contract or book a move without getting quotes from other companies. 
  •  Don’t sign blank contracts
  •  Don’t let the movers start without signing a contract first. (Don’t trust handshake deals.)
  •  Don’t pay upfront fees—legitimate moving companies won’t ask you to make a deposit. 

Things Your Moving Company Should Ask You

  • All of the following things will affect the cost of your move, so a trustworthy moving company should ask you:
  • What both addresses are (where you’re moving things from and to).
  • How many rooms you need to move (e.g., number of bedrooms). 
  • Whether there are stairs at either address. 
  • If you need packing services (in addition to moving). 
  • If you need boxes. 

What to Do After Falling for Moving Scams

If you’ve fallen victim to a moving scam, you can report it to the appropriate agencies: 

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get your money back, but unfortunately, many scams are designed, so the fraudster doesn’t get caught. For this reason, you must do your due diligence and vet moving companies before handing over any money. 

Safety Tips Email
Safety Tips Email

Stay up to date with the latest information on how to keep safe with guides and featured products written by experts. Unsubscribe any time.

Please enter a valid email address

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I avoid moving company scams?

To avoid moving company scams, you need to research the company before booking your move. Be sure to read customer reviews and look for any red flags of scams before handing over any money.

How are moving estimates calculated?

Several factors can affect the cost of using a moving company to help you move house, including:

  • The distance from the first house to the new one
  • How big the load is
  • The difficulty of the move (e.g., if there are stairs, if you have a lot of oversized/heavy items)
  • The day of the week and time of year
  • How much liability coverage you want
  • Additional materials requested/used
  • The number of movers needed

Don't forget to take into account tipping your movers—it's a lot of heavy lifting (literally), so tipping all of the movers involved is good practice. 

About This Article

Tagged

Sources

Share This Article to Help Others

Comments

Featured Reads