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How to Dodge an Interstate Moving Company Scam

Rogue Moving Companies

“Rogue movers” are unlicensed movers who scam unsuspecting customers every year. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA), the licensing authority for interstate moving companies, works hard to expose these movers. They prevent many of them from bamboozling innocent families and individuals. However, new “rogue movers” emerge every year, and if you are embarking on an interstate move, you need to watch out for moving fraud.

Common Moving Scams to Avoid

There are various ways false movers might cheat you during an interstate move. Here is a list of the most common moving scams:

1. Furniture-Nappers

Some movers will load all your belongings onto their trucks and obligate you to pay up. They will then refuse to transport or unload your belongings until you pay a surprise additional cash fee, often a large one.

2. Ghost Movers

No-show moving scammers will require an upfront deposit but then never show up on moving day. This is one of the most popular scams, so be wary of movers who require large deposits in advance.

3. Relocation Thieves

In this case, the rogue moving company will load up all your goods and simply drive away. They steal your belongings within minutes, and they can be almost impossible to track down.

4. Non-Communicators

These scammers will rope you into signing a contract before fully explaining pricing or filling in contract details. They might promise low prices but neglect to discuss all associated (and hidden) moving fees. They will have you sign the contract and then go on to complete all their work and paperwork. Once the move is complete, they you might get stuck with a big fat bill that’s nowhere near the original price discussed.

5. Insurance Scams

Moving companies offer different types of insurance. Scammers may provide very little coverage or no insurance at all, along with limited or nonexistent liability protection. This means you will be responsible for any damage to your items. “Rogue movers” can charge you whatever they like to pack, load, and transport your goods, while throwing caution to the wind and handling your possessions carelessly. When they aren’t responsible for your belongings, they’ll look for the easiest ways to move furniture, not the safest ones.

While the threat of moving scams can be terrifying, there are many honest and excellent moving companies ready to assist with your move. Below we describe ways you can identify scammers versus legitimate movers. If you watch out for the following red flags, you should be able to avoid moving scams.

Moving Scam Red Flags

There are several telltale signs of an illegitimate moving company. Which red flags should you watch for when hiring a moving company?

Red Flag #1: The Incomplete Estimate

Does your estimator insist they can provide an accurate final estimate for your move over-the-phone, without seeing any of your belongings? Or does your estimator come to your home and then finish the entire process within minutes while asking few or no questions at all?

Rushed estimates are a red flag. Your estimator should ask you questions about which items will be moving with you and which items will be left behind. They should check most every room, cupboard, and cranny. True estimators do a thorough job during the inspection process before providing an estimate.

Red Flag #2: The Upfront Deposit

Everyone should be cautious about moving companies who demand a large deposit before the move begins. The most professional movers require is usually 20% of the estimated final bill. Even with a deposit of about 20%, do your research to ensure your movers are licensed and insured.

Large upfront deposits do not make sense. Once you make a sizable nonrefundable deposit, your movers have a reduced sense of responsibility for what happens to your items. They might just take the money and not even show up come moving day.

Red Flag #3: Varying or Nonexistent Online Presence

Always do your research! An interstate move is a huge life event with a lot of money at stake. You should be able to find all the following information about your moving company online:

  • Name (one that has not changed multiple times over the years)
  • A local address
  • Licensing and insurance information
  • Contact information (that has remained consistent over the years)
  • Abundant and realistic customer reviews (check Yelp, Google, Facebook)

You might also want to ask your moving company for multiple references that you can contact for validation. The best reference of all is someone that you know and trust who has recently used the same mover.

Red Flag #4: Suspicious Contract and Low, Low Prices

Does your moving company rush you through your contract? Or maybe there’s no contract at all!

Take the time to read through your contract. Make sure it protects both you and your movers, and if there is no contract, don’t hire that company. Also make certain that your detailed estimate, including additional fees, are in writing and signed by both parties. You need a complete understanding of your estimate so that you are not scammed.

On a similar note, watch out for crazy low prices. Good moving companies are always competitive with one another. Get quotes from multiple companies before you make your decision. If you find a company who claims they can cut standard moving costs in half, don’t trust them. They will likely hike up the price or perhaps conduct an even scarier scam.

How Can I Identify a Reputable Moving Company?

Don’t worry, there are lots of qualities to look for that indicate a reliable moving operation.

  • Proper licensing and insurance (verify on their website and with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)
  • Competitive and comparable estimates
  • Local address
  • A proper contract
  • Glowing reviews and recommendations
  • Transparent and sensible online presence
  • Thorough moving estimate services
  • Business certification (check through Better Business Bureau)
  • A US Department of Transportation Number (check the DOT through the US Department of Transportation secure site)

Protect yourself and your loved ones from moving fraud. Find licensed and insured out-of-state movers right here on Ian’s Interstate Movers. We vet all moving companies in our network to ensure you don’t get quotes from rogue scammers. Click Get Quote now to request your free moving quotes.

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