You likely have heard sad stories of movers that turned out to be dishonest or scams. Sadly, these are not just stories. Usually, an unsuspecting customer will rely on a company that seems legit only to hold their possessions hostage for more money.
Dishonest moving companies are movers with no reputation that claim to offer relocation services, but in an actual sense, they are there to prey on customers.
In a popular case, someone posing as a representative of a moving company requests upfront payment, and then holds their items hostage by claiming extra fees are owed. If they refuse to pay, the movers may unpack their items and leave them on the street or worse, sell them off. Rogue movers are known to drive away with every item in their moving truck.
The questions is – how can one identify if a company is a scam? Luckily, there are ways to figure out this. We will be highlighting some the tricks to know if a mover is a scam.
Below is how to determine if a moving company is a scam before you hire or pay a dime:
1. It is not FMCSA Licensed
You should know that the moving industry is monitored and regulated by a federal agency known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and it keeps close monitoring on the moving industry since moving companies use trucks. If a moving company is not licensed appropriately through the FMCSA, chances are it is a fraud. Each reputable moving company has a USDOT number, which should be listed clearly on each page on its website. Immediately you have the USDOT number of a company, you can search the FMCSA’s database with it for any information about the company provided by the agency.
2. Is the Mover Rightly Insured?
Before you hire a moving company, you importantly need to ensure that the mover is appropriately insured. Fortunately, we’ve done this tough work for you – as each professional moving services provided by Adams Van Lines is under the right insurance required by authority. You can check our moving service to how we can help you with your move. The FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer two types of coverage options: Released Value and Full Value Protection.
The options are defined as follows:
1. Full Value Protection
Your moving company is liable for the replacement value of your goods if lost or damaged in your entire shipment. This is a wider plan available for the protection of your items. The cost of this liability varies by moving company.
2. Released Value protection
The cheapest protection available is the Released Value because it is offered at no extra charge. However, the protection is small. This option requires that the mover takes liability for exactly $0.60 per pound per item.
You can check the FMCSA website to read more about each option. Together with offering you liability options, your moving company must also carry its insurance. Movers should be able to show you proof of insurance when you request it.
3. If they Charge you based on Cubic Feet and not by Weight
A legitimate moving company will give a weight-based price for your belongings. They will ask for the number of pieces of furniture, the number of boxes, and even come to perform a physical assessment of the items you are moving to provide you the most accurate estimate, but they will not base the price on per-cubic-feet.
Come to think of it, there is no way to provide an accurate price this way until all the items are packed in the moving truck. A particular piece of furniture may have to fit in a particular way, and therefore you wouldn’t know the actual cost to ship the furniture item until it is packed. If you know the weight of your shipment before you move, a good mover will provide you a more accurate moving price estimate.
Also, a minimum price will be charged by weight by many moving companies, so if you are performing a small move, try to hire a small-move company, which doesn’t require minimum weight, to save some money.
4. If the Company asks you to pay or sign a Contract before Performing an In-Home Estimate
Real moving companies will never ask customers to sign anything or pay them any money until they perform an in-home estimate to assess the weight of your shipment accurately. If a mover skips this step and asks for payment from you or your signature on a contract right after you received an instant moving quote, be careful.
It is likely trying to defraud you. Many moving companies will provide you initial moving quotes online or via the phone. This doesn’t necessarily imply that the company is a scam. However, these are rough estimates to only provide you an insight into what your move will likely cost. The exact cost may go up at least a bit after performing an in-home estimate (also referred to as an on-site survey).
After providing you an instant moving quote, most genuine moving companies will send a representative (estimator) to your home to check all the things you are moving. After this inspection is completed, some companies perform this step uniquely, and some even perform it via the phone in special conditions.
Companies that want to scam you will often not perform an in-home estimate and just ask you to put your signature on a moving contract or pay them in advance for any price they estimated. If you are approached with this by a company, don’t send the company your credit card information or sign any document.
5. What can you say about the Moving Reviews?
When you are choosing a reliable moving company, check reviews of the company on moving review sites online, as your best starting place. The sites contain customer reviews for over 600 moving companies across the nation. For your convenience, you will find the US DOT number of the company. Specific moving services, official complaints filed with the FMCSA, fleet size, Better Business Bureau rating, and whether the movers have any membership with the American Moving & Storage Association.
We also suggest you ask your family, friends & neighbors for recommendations. Let them share their personal experiences with different moving companies. Ask for suggestions from neighbors on Nextdoor.com (a community-based social network). Check Yelp, Google, and other review sites – just be careful that there are so many scams and fake reviews on the internet.
Below are a few tips for checking customer reviews to get the right information:
- Read reviews on different review sites (Google Reviews, Yelp, Consumer Affairs, and so on)
- Be skeptical of what reviews a company shares about itself
- Read the reviews, don’t follow star ratings
- Read both positive and negative reviews with the same mind.
6. It Charges more Money on Customers than their Agreement
If many customers report that they are charged more money than they agreed to by a moving company, it could simply mean the mover is a scam. While there are genuine reasons for a moving company to increase your price (such as your moves taking much time than expected or you have more belongings to move than you revealed), too many fees are signs of moving scams.
As you are reading, focus on trends; not outliers. If most customers on each site complain of being hit with surprise fees or are treated with dishonesty by a company; that is something you should expect. You might not need to worry about this if only a few customers complain about these things.
7. Too Low Rates
While you should be suspicious of a company that requests large down payments, too low moving rates are also suspicious. Moving is not a task that can or should be done for a much cheaper price. This is because the company will be paying its workers, pay for vehicle maintenance and gas, and so on. Make sure you compare the estimate you received to those from other movers. Scams may double the price in the final minute and capitalize on you not being able to find another moving company.
8. Several Names
Usually, when people have tough experiences with some companies or they got scammed, they report the moving company to the right quarters. This authority will then rate such moving company poorly and this would affect its overall reputation. Some sneaky movers change their company names to beat these poor ratings.
When you select a moving company to work with, ensure they are insured and licensed to operate. When you call, they should respond with the company’s full name on the phone, and they should be able to give you some references if requested. You can get in touch with these references and ask them about their experiences with the mover.
9. Blank Contract
Together with providing wrong estimates, some rogue movers will ask you to sign an incomplete or blank contract, claiming that they are busy at the moment that they will later fill the empty spaces. They will ask you to take their word that they will fill in the appropriate information in the contract. If any company asks you to sign a blank contract, do not endorse it; find another mover.
When you sign a filled contract, carefully review it. Ensure all the information tallies with what you and the moving company have discussed. Immediately you sign the contract, the document becomes legally binding and will be difficult to refute in the future. Any legit company will bring a contract that you must sign.
The contract includes the delivery date, the estimated moving price, and required supplies. The contract should also indicate that there are no extra and hidden costs like driver’s fees or compulsory tips. A contract is so much important to keep your interests and possessions safe as it protects you and the moving company.
10. Too Low Rates and Hidden Fees
To make additional money, some moving companies will charge you extra fees you didn’t know you would face. When you get the final bill, it should contain each charge that builds up the overall feel. Carefully check the bill, and watch out for odd charges. For instance, some rogue movers could charge you a fee if the moving vehicle won’t fit on a narrow street. They will say they have to transport your items to a smaller moving vehicle. And you will be charged for this transfer.
When you hire a moving company, you will want to leave your belongings to them, believing that they will treat you with honesty and you get your shipments to your new address safely. Fortunately, there are many trustworthy moving companies, completely licensed and insured, ready to help you with your moving experience.
Start your search for movers here, and see more helpful tips from us on hiring the best movers for your upcoming move.
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