Most Common Moving Scams And How To Avoid Them

By: ROS Team

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There is a lot that goes into moving from one place to another. The process can be overwhelming right from the start, from finding a new place to packing up the old one. If you don’t know of a credible moving company, you could end up hiring one that damages or loses your personal belongings.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common moving company scams so you don’t end up being an easy target.

What is a Moving Scam?

A moving scam occurs when a moving company provides an estimate, loads the goods, and then charges a much higher price to deliver the goods, effectively holding the goods as a lien.

The Most Common Moving Scams in New York City

1. Cheap Quotes

A moving company that provides a quote without first looking at what you have to move should raise some red flags.  These quotes are often too good to refuse and can be extreme underestimates of the company’s actual moving fees.

The quoted amount will likely not factor in the weight of the personal belongings to be moved or the mileage from the current residence to the new one, and the customer is responsible for paying the difference.

Shady moving companies often provide lower than normal quotes to attract customers. Once the customer pays a deposit, chances are the company representative will disappear or the moving company will demand additional money to complete the move. It’s always a good idea to get multiple price quotes from different moving companies before deciding on one.

Cheap Quotes

2. Large Advance Deposit Requirement

Another common moving company scam is asking for a large deposit in advance. The larger deposit amount is usually justified by the claim that the company offers a higher level of service, a better price, or a more convenient time frame. If you pay a larger than average deposit in advance, the moving company may disappear or provide poor service.

As a rule of thumb, never pay more than 20% of the estimated total cost upfront. Also, try to pay using a credit card instead of cash. Keep a record of your transaction regardless of the method of payment.

3. False Business Names

Some moving companies can continue scamming people because they routinely change their business names. Make sure the moving company you use has a local address and is properly registered. Request references from former customers or community partners, and don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions.

4. Packing

One interesting moving scam is that, if you pack your belongings yourself, the company will not be responsible for any damage during their transport. Allowing them to pack your personal belongings, which comes at an additional charge, guarantees coverage in case anything is lost or damaged. Although most moving companies take care of their customers’ property, some companies are more careless with the boxes that you pack yourself.

5. Non Disclosure of Additional Fees

Most moving companies offer standard services at a fixed rate and offer premium services such as disassembly/reassembly for an additional fee. If the moving rep doesn’t provide a reason for additional fees, you have probably encountered a moving scam.

6. Indefinite Price Quotes

If the quote you receive doesn’t expire, be leery of using the moving company.  Almost all price quotes expire after a given number of days, regardless of the industry. It is the most tricky moving scam.

7. Obscure Insurance Information

Moving companies almost always insure the items they are moving. There is usually a fixed amount for which items are insured should they be damaged during the move.  But if the moving company includes premium insurance rates in your price quote, it could be a moving scam. There should be a separate process for assessing insurance amounts, and it should only be considered if requested.

How to Avoid Moving Company Scams

  • Do your homework. Don’t compare companies solely based on their prices—consider years of operation as well as any additional services the company may offer. You should also be leery if a quote is too good to be true.
  • Ask for references.
  • Get a written estimate. Remember: You should never pay more than 20% of the total moving price as a security deposit.
  • Do a background check of the moving company.
  • Never sign blank documents.
  • Be present during the move.
  • Ask for the company’s state license number.
  • Pay with a credit card.
  • Don’t allow a moving company to load your belongings if they initiate a price change before loading the moving truck.

tips to avoid moving scams

Moving Scams FAQs

How do I not get Scammed when I Move?

One way to avoid moving company scams is to meet your mover beforehand. You can assess your feelings around him or her and ask questions.

How much should I Tip my Mover?

The average tip for moving staff is $4 – $5 per hour, or 5% – 10% of the moving fee. Suppose you pay $2,000 in moving fees. The standard tip would be $100 – $150.

How can I make sure a Moving Company is Legit?

You can always verify the moving company’s business information online. If there’s no company listing, consider it a red flag. Also, make sure the moving company is certified by the America Moving and Storage Association and that it has a number issued by the U.S Department of Transportation.

Is it Common for Moving Companies to Steal your Stuff?

This industry’s biggest scam is holding your belongings captive for additional money. In this scenario, the mover demands hundreds or thousands of dollars to release your belongings. There are reports made every year citing this type of fraud.

Should I Pay the Moving Company a Deposit?

A legit moving company will never require a large advance deposit, and the fee typically is applied to the total moving costs.

Why do Movers Ask for Cash?

Some moving companies ask for a cash deposit to guarantee that the customer is serious about booking them for their services. It is not uncommon for them to ask for a cash deposit, but it shouldn’t exceed 20% of the total moving fees. It is one of the most common moving scams.

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