As home sales increase, so do moving scams

Photo (c) Kathrin Ziegler - Getty Images

Florida’s attorney general says the problem is growing in her state

The real estate market is red hot. With more homes changing hands, more people are hiring moving companies -- and when that happens, scammers take notice.

In Florida, where homes are selling faster than just about anywhere else, Attorney General Ashley Moody reports the 5.6% increase in home sales in 2020 has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in moving-related scams.

“If you are a Floridian buying a new house or moving here from out of state to enjoy our great weather and growing economy, be wary of moving scams,” Moody said.

She said there are a number of red flags. If a company refuses to provide a written estimate of the cost or if it demands a large, upfront payment in cash, you could be on the road to a scam.

Another moving nightmare involves the truck arriving at your new home but the driver tells you it won’t be unloaded unless you pay an extra amount.

Research moving companies carefully

One way to protect yourself is to be very careful about choosing a moving company. ConsumerAffairs has collected thousands of verified reviews on the top moving companies, rating the top seven moving companies

Steve Weitekamp, president of the California Moving and Storage Association (CMSA) says consumers preparing for a move need to choose carefully. He says the group has found most of the abuses result from moves that are booked online without any preliminary research.

To avoid these types of situations, here are some dos and don’ts:

  • Never sign any blank or incomplete documents or contracts;

  • Obtain moving estimates and quotes from the company in writing and make sure the estimates are binding;

  • Determine whether the movers will perform the move alone or if the company will be subcontracting with another carrier;

  • Beware if movers show up in rental trucks without uniformed personnel.

A recent study by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) found that scams are widespread, especially when it comes to moving across state lines. The organization said it logs an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year.

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