Allowing someone you don’t know to drive away with your belongings is among the many stressful aspects of a long-distance move, especially if that move is complicated or maybe prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, some consumers find their stress compounded by fraudulent movers who charge them more than the amount quoted, subject them to unreasonably long delivery windows, hold their items hostage for additional undisclosed fees, or leave them with damaged goods.
An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau finds that scams are widespread in the moving industry, particularly when it comes to interstate moves. BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year, with many complaints describing how experiences with dishonest moving companies have turned into financial and emotional nightmares. According to the study, a fraudulent moving company initially may be helpful on the phone and have a well-designed website boasting of its many years of experience, well-trained workers, satisfied customers, and appropriate licensing.
However, the red flags begin when the company claims to be unable to make an in-person inspection and estimate. While it may claim to be local, in reality, it’s based out-of-state and paying for a local post office box address. An initial low-ball quote soon balloons as the company claims, often based on improper calculations, that you have more belongings than originally estimated. The bad actor may demand additional fees after loading and unloading the truck, and it may not deliver your goods until days or even weeks after you move in. In fact, the company you originally paid may not even be the company conducting your move: it may have hired local temporary workers who rented a truck, or it may have acted as a broker with another company.
The best way to avoid such a scam is to do careful research before hiring a moving company. Specifically, the BBB report advises looking up a mover’s license number on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website or its BBB Business Profile.