Don’t get taken for a ride this summer by these common moving scams.

3 minute read

Whether you have a big move coming up or plan to hire a moving company down the road, the last thing you need on moving day – or maybe even after you arrive at your new, empty home –  is to get taken by a moving scam. Disreputable movers are out there, and they can’t wait to pack up your money and trust and take your possessions for a bumpy ride.

Americans lost more than $230,000 in 2020 to fraudulent moving companies, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).[1] So, it’s a bad idea to trust your valuable possessions to the first mover who rolls up with a big truck and even bigger promises.

Below are five of the BBB’s biggest warning signs of a moving scam…

1. The mover isn’t registered

If the moving company you want to hire to move you isn’t registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it’s time to slam the brakes on further discussion.[2] Interstate movers are required to register with the federal government and have a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number, so if the moving company isn’t registered, that’s a red flag that the mover may not be legitimate.

Always search the FMCSA database before hiring any interstate mover. If the moving company is registered, you can review complaints filed against it, along with the mover’s safety and contact information.

2. The mover gives an estimate without visiting your home

A reputable moving coming won’t give you an estimate after just asking you a few questions on the phone. The only way a mover can give an accurate estimate is to send a representative to your home to see everything that needs to be moved and how much work will go into the job.

“A mover who doesn’t insist on an on-site inspection of your household goods is giving you a sight-unseen estimate – and those are usually too good to be true,” according to Moving.com. If the mover refuses to come to your home to inspect the items that need to be transported, it’s time to move on with your search for a reputable moving company.

3. Last-minute price increases

Shady movers may give you a quote based on the expected weight and then bump up the moving price significantly on moving day. “After loading the truck, they inform the consumer that the load is over the expected weight and an additional fee will have to be paid,” says the BBB. “Most of the time, the additional fee is significantly more expensive per pound, sometimes as much as double the original estimate.”

When you hire a mover, always get everything in writing. “Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the limits of liability and any disclaimers,” says the BBB. “The pickup and expected delivery date should be easily identified.”

4. Asking for payment in advance

Reputable movers won’t ask you for a large deposit before moving you. And forking over full payment before the truck rolls out of the driveway is a bad idea. That’s because if your possessions “disappear” in transit, or get delayed for weeks or months, you won’t have any leverage to get your stuff back. And if the mover doesn’t show up on moving day, good luck trying to get a refund.

“Reputable movers will not demand cash or any large deposit before moving you.” You generally pay upon delivery, according to Moving.com. When you pay a moving company, use a credit card in case you must dispute fraudulent charges.

5. Holding your stuff hostage

Disreputable movers are notorious for loading up the truck on moving day and then holding your household possessions hostage by demanding more money before they’ll deliver to your new home, according to the BBB: “If an individual’s possessions are being held hostage for additional payment that was not agreed upon when the contract was signed, contact BBB or local law enforcement for help.”


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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