When you see these warning signs, send the moving company packing.

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May is National Moving Month, kicking off the beginning of the busiest time for moving in the United States. That means shady moving companies are out in full force, eager to take advantage of easy targets trying to line up a mover to make relocation as smooth as possible.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), consumers filed 1,100 complaints with the BBB against moving companies in 2021. Moving scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker increased in 2021 by 216 percent from 2020, and consumers reported more than $730,000 lost to moving scams.

If you’re moving to a new place, whether you’re headed across town or relocating to a new city, you’re wise to shop around and do your homework before entrusting your valuable possessions to a moving company.

Here are the three most common moving scams, according to the BBB.

  • Movers who never show up after giving you a quote and pocketing your deposit
  • Movers who provide a quote based on estimated weight/load and then claim the load exceeds that weight on moving day, asking or an additional fee
  • Movers who give an estimate, show up on moving day and load your belongings but fail to deliver at the destination or hold your belongings “hostage” for an additional fee

“Do not be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand, says the BBB.  “If the moving company either can’t or won’t answer your questions, look for another company. Trust matters when hiring a moving company.”

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5 red flags of a moving scam

  1. If a mover has no information on its website about licensing or insurance, that’s a bad sign, since the mover may not have the proper policies in place to protect your belongings.
  2. Legitimate moving companies typically have their own trucks. If the movers show up in a rented truck, the company may not be legitimate.
  3. The mover provides an estimate over the phone without visiting your home for an on-site inspection of the load.
  4. When a mover asks for a huge down payment or the full amount before moving day, don’t pay it. That’s a strong indicator of a fraudulent business.
  5. If the mover you want to hire for a move to a different state has no licensing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, that’s a red flag for potential trouble ahead. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all interstate moving companies to have an identification number issued by the FMCSA.

“Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the limits of liability and any disclaimers. The pickup and expected delivery date should be easily identified,” says the BBB.

“Do not be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. If the moving company either can’t or won’t answer your questions, look for another company.”

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC