Moving can be a stressful time in your life. Moving to a new home, starting a new job or simply worrying about whether your items will be damaged or even lost can be overwhelming. Finding a reputable moving company can be work in itself. Better Business Bureau can help you select a trustworthy moving company and avoid moving scams.
There are two primary scams you should watch out for when hiring a moving company: the hostage-goods scam and the advance-deposit scheme. The hostage-goods situation works like this: a moving company has already moved your stuff and quoted you a price. But, when you get to your final destination, it’s holding on to your items asking for more money than originally quoted. With an advance deposit scam, movers ask for a lot of money upfront and then never show.
BBB’s Scam Tracker, a tool which provides consumers across North America with a place to report scams and fraud and to warn others of malicious or suspicious activities, took nearly 50 reports of moving scams over the last year. Consumers reported losses of nearly $40,000 during this time period or an average loss of about $829.
Unfortunately, many people do fall prey to dishonest moving companies. BBB offers these tips to avoid a moving scam:
• Get recommendations from friends and family. If they’re pleased with their movers, most likely you will be too.
• Get references and call them. A reputable moving company will be happy to pass along this information.
• Request estimates from at least three moving companies.
• Find out how long the moving company has been in business.
• Select a moving company at least six weeks in advance of your move and meet the representatives in person.
• Beware of a moving company with no interest in an on-site inspection/inventory of your items.
• Avoid a moving company who accepts only cash or wants a large deposit before the move.
• Find out if a moving company is a member of an association like American Moving and Storage Association or Association of Movers Inc.
• Make sure you know moving companies are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to give you a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.”
• When selecting a moving company online, be sure it has an actual storefront.
• Make sure the mover is licensed, bonded and insured as appropriate.
• Confirm insurance coverage. Understand what the insurance covers, whether items will be repaired, replaced or if you will be given a cash settlement that you can use to repair or replace an item on your own. Consider purchasing full value protection, which may add to the cost upfront, but can eliminate headaches after you move.
• Get everything in writing, including cost, move date, loss or damage policy and inventory of items to be moved.
• Read over the contract to make sure there are no hidden items.
• Keep valuables, medicine and important documents with you.
• Be sure you’re present when movers pack, pickup and deliver your items.
Remember, BBB can provide a list of BBB-accredited movers and business reviews of ones you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call 800-776-5301.
The writer is the president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Dayton.