BBB Tip: Moving Scams

  
     
Moving scams can entail anything from collecting deposits and never showing up to massive price hikes to goods being held hostage.

movers packing truckBe sure to do careful research when hiring a moving company. Scammers can turn relocating into an expensive nightmare. These scams run the gamut from missing items, massive price hikes, and in some cases, goods being held hostage for additional payment.

How the Scam Works:

There are several versions of moving scams. The simplest is getting a quote and leaving a deposit, but the “movers” never show. In another variation, the moving company quotes a price based on weight. After loading, they inform you that your belongings went over the weight estimate and the additional weight will be a lot more per pound (sometimes double).

With the most egregious scheme, everything seems to be fine. The movers quote a price, arrive on time, and load your belongings on a truck. But when the truck doesn’t show up, you learn your belongings are being held “hostage” and you have to pay another fee before scammers will deliver them.

Tips to Spot This Scam: 

  • Watch out for signs of a fly-by-night company. Look out for company websites that have no address and no information about a mover's registration or insurance. Another warning is if telephone calls are answered with a generic "movers" rather than a company name, or the mover uses rented trucks. Another tip-off is the moving company that doesn’t make an on-site inspection but does estimates over the phone. 
  • Get everything in writing. Check licensing with the authorities (in the U.S., use this tool to check out interstate movers), confirm insurance coverage, and get a written contract. Carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the limits of liability and any disclaimers. Make sure pick-up and delivery dates are spelled out and understand how the rate is being calculated. Don’t pay cash and don’t prepay or make a large deposit. Understand the terms of the insurance coverage and consider purchasing full value protection.
     

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.

Last Reviewed: March 7, 2017