Scammers can turn moving into a nightmare

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Consumers need to look out for red flags to avoid becoming a scam victim

Moving can be a highly stressful activity under the best of circumstances. Picking the right moving company can help, but picking the wrong one can turn the experience into a nightmare.

The month of May marks the beginning of the busiest time in the U.S. for moving -- so much so that the month was designated National Moving Month in 1997. 

With so many people searching for a company to move them across town or across the country, it’s little wonder that some people end up as victims of moving scams. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that it is getting about 1,100 complaints a year from consumers who have lost money to these operators.

Being able to recognize a moving scam before any money changes hands is the best way to avoid becoming a victim. First, take a look at the way a move is supposed to go.

The way it’s supposed to go

Debbie, of Summerville, S.C., describes a great experience with one of the major moving companies, Allied Van Lines.

“We researched most of the big interstate moving companies prior to selecting Allied,” Debbie wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “The horror stories from many reviews of other companies were frightening. Allied provided an in-home guaranteed quote. They were flexible on dates and when moving day arrived the crew was on time and prepared. The move went like clockwork and we were well taken care of.”

Bad things can happen when you encounter a scammer who is pretending to be a moving company. Consumers could pay a deposit but the movers never show up. Perhaps worse, the scammer could take your belongings and disappear. 

One of the most common moving scams is the bait-and-switch. The victim is offered a low-ball price, but the mover claims the weight is greater than the estimate after the truck is loaded. They then raise the cost to unload the truck by hundreds of dollars.

Red flags

Here are some red flags to look out for when trying to avoid moving scams:

  • The company’s website is devoid of an address, registration, and insurance information

  • The mover shows up in a rented truck

  • The mover wants to be paid in advance

  • The mover gives you a verbal quote, not one in writing

If you are looking for a reputable moving company, ConsumerAffairs has done some of the legwork for you. Check out our complete Best Movers Buyer’s Guide, along with thousands of verified consumer reviews, here.

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