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How to Spot Rogue Movers

Rogue movers prey on individuals and families, taking advantage of people’s trust in order to defraud customers, steal their possessions, or ransom their belongings. Sadly, the growth of the internet has made it easier for these criminals to pose as reputable movers and trick homeowners into giving them access to their property. To prevent your relocation from turning into an expensive and nerve-racking ordeal, learn how to spot a rogue mover by paying attention to the warning signs below. Whether you're moving across the country or down the street, being informed is the best way to stay safe.

No Physical Address

Though movers spend most of their time out in the field, they all have a physical location that serves as an office and storage facility. You’ll find it listed on their website, usually on their homepage, contact page, or both. Sites set up by rogue movers lack this information. In many cases, they don’t have a phone number listed either, just an email address or message form for you to fill out.

Phone Estimate

In-home estimates are standard practice in the moving industry. They allow the agent to assess the weight and volume of your belongings, in order to provide accurate pricing. Some companies offer virtual estimates as well. Though not as popular, they are a convenient alternative for busy homeowners. Rogue movers, on the other hand, prefer to provide fast estimates over the phone because it justifies tacking on extra fees at the last minute.

No Contract

After completing their estimate, reputable movers present their customers with contracts detailing the scope of work, with a list of approved services, costs, and payment methods. By contrast, rogue movers rarely provide legal documents which might prevent them from charging exorbitant fees. When they do, they often contain blank sections, which they can fill in later with their own terms and conditions.

Extremely Low Quote

Moving companies compete with each other to transport your goods at the lowest cost. In order to attract potential victims, rogue movers undercut the competition with prices significantly below market rates. Once they've been hired, the movers disappear with the customer's belongings or refuse to deliver them until the customer pays a hefty fee, often two or three times the initial price. Simply put, if the cost seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Cash Up Front

Legitimate movers do not ask for payment in advance. They may ask for a deposit, typically 5-10 percent of the estimate, but never the full amount. Deposits are always applied to your final invoice and normally made with a check or credit card. To avoid a paper trail, rogue movers prefer cash. They may ask you to settle the entire bill or demand a substantial portion of it before starting work (e.g. 30 percent or more). Once they receive the money, the customer never hears from them again.

Can’t Produce Licenses or Certificates

By law, all movers must register with the federal government and receive a number from the Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commonly referred to as a DOT number. Some states also impose additional licenses. For instance, movers in California must register with the state’s Bureau of Household Goods and Services. Reputable movers have their credentials posted in their offices and often on their websites. They’ll also provide them to customers upon request. The Department of Transportation even has an online database where you can look them up. Don’t trust any mover who cannot present their certifications.

No Web Presence

One of the best ways to identify rogue movers is by the size of their digital footprint. While criminals often lure customers with dummy websites, they won’t appear on major review sites. Reputable movers have thousands of customer ratings on Yelp, Google, Taskrabbit, and Angi’s. They’re also featured on the Better Business Bureau. Most have active social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well. Any moving company without these types of digital records should be immediately suspect.

Inconsistent Logos

Rogue movers constantly change names, logos, and branding in order to evade detection. As a result, their presentation is often inconsistent. For instance, the logo on the side of their truck may not be the same as the logo on their website or contracts. While there may be legitimate reasons for this (the company may be rebranding, for example), it’s a major red flag. Some rogue movers have been known to arrive in a rental truck without any logo at all ‒ an even bigger red flag.

Choosing a Reputable Mover

Allied Van Lines has been helping America move since 1928. In that time, we’ve earned the respect of homeowners through hard work and communication. Our process is transparent, with a single point of contact ready to answer questions and address your needs at any stage from the beginning to end. Find out why we're America’s most trusted movers. Contact us today for a free quote!