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By Ryan Cox
Director, Allied Consumer Moving
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Common Moving Scams to Watch Out For

When relocating to a new home, there are several things you will need to take into consideration. Unfortunately, during a move, many people become victims to various moving scams. Knowing what those scams are and how to avoid them will help to protect yourself during the moving process.

We’ve compiled a list of common moving scams people fall victim to year after year. After reviewing this information, you will be better equipped to recognize these scams and know how to prevent them from affecting your upcoming relocation.



Over the Phone Estimates

This scam involves giving only over the phone estimates to consumers instead of providing an on-site inspection of the goods being moved. These types of estimates are not nearly as reliable as in home estimates. Because of this, unreliable movers will often provide clients with an over the phone estimate, and after the move, increase the price that was previously quoted.

Receiving an in-home estimate will give you a more accurate idea as to how much you will have pay for your upcoming move. If the company refuses to offer an in-home estimate, then this is a sign the movers are not legit.

You should request your movers come to your home and provide you with a free moving quote. Once they have done this, ask to receive the quote in writing. Doing so will help to ensure the moving company doesn’t add any additional charges to the overall cost of your move. Sometimes this information can be hidden in fine print, so make sure you read all the information provided to you in writing. It is vital that you know everything possible to properly protect your move. Lastly, keep in mind if someone offers you an estimate over the phone that seems too good to be true, then it likely is.

The Bait and Switch

Many people fall victim to the bait and switch moving scam. With the bait and switch, a moving company will offer you what appears to be a great estimate for your move. The price seems so good that you will likely hire them to complete your relocation. This is the bait!

At the end of your move, the company will then add on additional fees and costs. This of course is the switch. Companies will use this tactic to draw customers in by providing them with promises of inexpensive services, but later increase the price substantially. By the time the switch occurs, the move has been completed and you, the consumer, are stuck paying more than what was previously expected.

Inquire about any itemized fees that may be included in your relocation costs. Doing so will ensure that you are dealing with an honest company that will inform you about all expected costs. You should check the company’s BBB rating, ask for recommendations, and read reviews before making any final decisions.


Required Deposit

The required deposit scam involves demanding cash for moving services up front before any work is done. If the mover you select is a reputable company, then they will likely not ask you to pay a deposit prior to your relocation. In most cases, you are asked to pay your relocation bill once all your possessions have been safely delivered to your new home. If you pay ahead of time, this will give your potential scammer or mover total control of your relocation. Withholding payment until your move is complete will help ensure that your belongings are delivered in a safe and timely manner.


The Thin Contract

Various moving scams stem from misleading contracts. Many unreliable relocation professionals will attempt to provide you with a contract that has very little details. Untrustworthy companies will attempt to leave out critical details to charge more for your move in the end. A few items that should be in your moving contract include your estimated moving quote, extra fees, and moving day information such as pick up time and estimated delivery date and times.

The first step to avoiding this scam is to know your rights and responsibilities.  When you know what you are entitled to as a consumer, avoiding contract scams will be simple. Also, be sure to thoroughly read every detail of your contract prior to signing any documents. Doing this will protect both you and your possessions during your move.

Late (or Never) Delivery

This scam may be the worst of the bunch. A mover will come and pack, load and promise to deliver your belongings "on-time." Then, they call saying your goods are in the back of a truck behind two other peoples' belongings, so you can't receive your furniture until theirs is delivered first.

Or, if the mover has a licensing violation and their truck is impounded in transit by the Department of Transportation, all your valuables are stuck on board until the truck is released. Either of these situations result in your goods being delivered weeks late, or not at all.

Reckless Abandonment

This happens often with a rogue mover. A fly by the night mover will take your money, load your belongings, then close shop and flee, abandoning your shipment either on the truck or in a private storage facility. This scam allows the mover to take off with your money and your belongings. If you are lucky enough to find where your belongings ended up, expect to pay exorbitant amounts of money to retrieve them from the storage locale.

Avoiding Moving Scams

Now that you know the common rip-offs and scams executed by a shady mover, how can you avoid these common pitfalls? Having a successful, affordable relocation performed by a professional mover does not have to be a pipe dream. Below are some tips for choosing a mover for a happy, successful relocation:

  • Demand an on-site estimate: Allied Van Lines provides free on-site moving estimates.
  • Check the company's address: A real mover will have a physical address. Once you get the address, make sure you Google it or drive to the location to verify its legitimacy.
  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family and neighbors: One of the best ways to find a great mover? Word of mouth from people they have moved before.
  • Ask your real estate agent: Real estate agents help people move all the time. They are a great source for a reputable mover.
  • Get three in-home estimates: Get three estimates from three different moving companies. If there is a significant disparity, this will help you to easily identify a fraud.
  • Choose a mover who bases price by weight, not cubic feet: This will help guarantee and lock in the estimate they provide you initially.
  • Check the mover's complaint history: If a mover has more than eight complaints on a given complaint website (Better Business Bureau, etc.), then you might want to rethink electing them as your mover.

How to Protect Yourself from Moving Scams

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent falling into scams with a mover, and certain things you should never do when moving. Heed this advice, and benefit from a happier (and cheaper) move:

  • Do not pay a large deposit: A mover that demands a large deposit upfront likely has an agenda other than securely moving your belongings - like taking your money and running. If a mover demands a large deposit, move on to a different company.
  • Do not pay cash: Paying cash is asking for trouble. When you pay cash, there is no evidence of a transaction. Therefore, if your things aren't moved, or even worse, you don't get them back, you have no evidence of ever having paid for service.
  • Make sure the truck is branded: Real moving companies have real moving trucks, complete with branding and logos. To make sure crooks do not drive off with your valuables, check the truck for a company logo.
  • Do not sign a partial contract: You would never sign a loan agreement or binding contract with blanks; the same rule applies for moving contracts. Make sure the contract is complete before signing anything.
  • Do not agree to a skinny contract: Make sure you sign a complete moving contract, or one that is more than two pages. All your goods should be listed on the contract.
  • Buy extra insurance: A reputable mover will offer additional types of moving insurance to ensure you can have the highest protection should something happen to your valuables during the move. Allied Van Lines offers Full Valuation Coverage that totally protects your shipment should damage or loss occur.
  • Ask about the mover's claims policy: Find out more about how the company processes claims in the event you should need to file one. Should you file a claim, you want to make sure it is handled quickly and properly.

How to Choose a Reputable Mover

Today's economic climate is anything but certain. People who are not relishing in this economic downturn are the most likely to become victims of moving scams. They search for the mover with the best price, not knowing that these "too good to be true" movers often are.

With more than 85 years of experience in the moving business, Allied Van Lines knows the ins and outs of the industry. And, since we are a reputable moving company, we can tell you exactly how to choose a professional mover. We know you want a great move at a fair price. Here are some tips on how to choose a mover who can provide you with just that:

  • Begin the search for the perfect mover 8 weeks prior to your move. If you aren't lucky enough to have that much time, start as soon as possible.
  • Ask for references. Check with others around you who have recently moved for their recommendations on a great mover.
  • Make a list of the services you need. Be sure to consider everything, from temporary storage to shipping your car to ensure you get the most accurate price, and more importantly, choose a mover who can accommodate your needs.
  • Research companies thoroughly. Look for companies in your area that can provide the specific services you need. Eliminate those companies that do not meet your requirements.

Use these helpful tips to help find the best mover. Just remember, cheapest is not always best. What may seem like a great deal upfront can end up costing you much more in the end.