Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them

Don’t Fall Victim to Moving Scams

The process of organizing and planning a move is almost bound to seem a big overwhelming at times. Scammers who operate on the fringes of our business know this and take advantage of people distracted with packing, preparation and saying their goodbyes. They’ll attempt to hurry things along, glossing over crucial details while promising low pricing, on-time scheduling, and dependable service. 

If you feel rushed into signing a moving contract (or you haven’t signed one at all), it should raise a red flag. Once your entire household is packed onto their truck, a scam mover has you at a disadvantage and you could have trouble getting your goods back without a hefty ransom payment. 

These con artists use elusive, fly-by-night operations and tricky bait and switch tactics to scam consumers out of thousands of dollars. Before you find yourself in this predicament, take a few moments to review some of the tactics the movers use to scam consumers, as well as some tips we recommend for stopping them. 

Make Sure Your Moving Quote is Accurate

A legitimate interstate mover like United Van Lines always does a visual survey of your belongings and asks important questions about your planning, packing and delivery. If your mover tries to rush you through this part of the process, beware. Some of their bidding scams include the following: 

Low-Ball Bids.  If the sales pitch seems too good to be true, it is likely lacking important details. Always insist on understanding the full scope of your final costs before signing a suspiciously low-cost moving agreement. 

Volume-Based Bids. Almost all long-distance moves are calculated by their estimated weight, not by cubic footage of truck space. In fact, interstate moves based on volume are considered to be illegal without a weight conversion factor and should be reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

Phone Bids. If a business quotes a large move over the phone without visually inspecting the household and asking important questions about what you will be taking, where you will be moving and how you will be packing, chances are it’s a scam. 

In-and Out Bids. Like the phone bid, the in-and-out bid does not usually gather enough information to accurately bid a long-distance move. If you have an estimator, he or she should visually inspect every room in your home – including closets – and ask about your moving plans. 

Handshake Bids. Without a detailed contract, a scammer has the leverage to tack on fees for packing, climbing stairs, heavy moving, or additional weight at the last minute. Insist on signing a completed moving contract before you let movers take your belongings. 

Be Informed of Your Moving Rights 

Licensed interstate movers are required by law to adhere to certain regulations and standards of practice that make them more reliable and accountable. Keep an eye out for these common violations to spot a rogue move in progress. 

Rights and Responsibilities. Federal Law requires that every licensed mover provide consumers with an informational packet titled, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” This 25-page brochure provides you with information on fair practices, industry regulations and consumer rights. 

Upfront Deposit. No reputable mover should ask for a cash or credit card deposit before they load the truck. This is a major indicator that you’re dealing with a criminal mover. Always clarify payment terms before you sign a contract. 

Suspicious Terms and Conditions. Some scammers attempt to skirt the law with documents that only protect their interests. Some will present vague agreements that don’t sufficiently protect your property or payments. Others will try to confuse you by using complicated legal jargon, with terms like “choice of venue,” which restrict your right to file legal claims. When in doubt, insist on having an attorney review the unsigned agreement before contracting services. 

No Valuation. Interstate moving companies are required to offer valuation (or moving protection) to customers to protect them and their belongings in the event of damage or loss. If your long-distance mover doesn’t offer this option, you could be in for some hassles down the road. 

Protect Yourself from Moving Scams 

With a little due diligence, you can be certain that you are hiring a reputable moving company and avoid many of the unfortunate consequences of dealing with a rogue operator. 

Check with ATA.  The American Trucking Associations Moving and Storage Conference keeps an up-to-date list of Pro-Mover certified local and long-distance movers on file. Check with them to find a moving service or to screen a company you’ve already contacted. 

Check with Government Regulators. To be absolutely sure that a business is legitimate, you can check with city officials to verify their business license and address info. Additionally, you can check with the State Secretary’s check for up-to-date registration details and “does business as” (dba) aliases. 

Get References. Ask for three local references with recent moving experience. Also check online for reviews with the Better Business Bureau, Google and Angi. 

Document Everything. After delivery, you should note any problems on the mover’s copy of the inventory before signing it. You then have nine months to file a written claim for loss or damage with your moving company. Your mover then has 30 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim. Within 120 days of receiving it, they must make an offer to pay deny or your claim. It’s a lot easier for them to deny it if you don’t have before-and-after proof, or if they didn’t see the damage before leaving your home. 

When you choose United, you can be sure that you are receiving professional, long-distance moving services and not those of a rogue mover. Start your moving quote today and rest easy knowing you’re working with a reputable, certified mover to handle all of your belongings.

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