Columbus, OH (April 24, 2019) – May is National Moving Month, which kicks off the busiest time of year for Americans changing residences. It also means unlicensed movers and dishonest scammers are waiting to take advantage of unguarded consumers. Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to provide important tips on how to avoid scams and have a safe, secure move.
According to BBB, movers and moving companies are one of the top categories of companies searched on the BBB’s website. Over the past year, consumers across North America have searched over 1.4 million times and 9,256 complaints about movers and moving companies were registered with BBB . Common complaints included damaged or missing items, invoices that were higher than estimates, late deliveries and, in some cases, goods held hostage for additional payments.
Before you hire a moving company, be sure to do careful research so relocating doesn’t turn into an expensive nightmare. There are several kinds of moving scams that are reported to BBB every year, including:
.Consumers getting a quote and paying a deposit, but the “movers” never show up
• the moving company quotes a price based on weight and after loading your items on the truck, they inform you that your belongings went over the estimate and the additional weight will be a lot more per pound (sometimes double)
.In the case of the most egregious twist on the scheme, everything seems to be fine. The movers quote a price, arrive on time, and load your belongings on a truck. But when the truck doesn’t show up at your new home, either your belongings are simply gone forever or are being held “hostage” and you have to pay another fee before scammers will deliver them.
BBB is offering the following tips for finding a trustworthy moving company and taking some of the guesswork out of a move:
.Do your research. Look up Business Profiles for moving companies on BBB.org. The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) also identifies movers that have pledged to uphold high standards of trust and to resolve complaints quickly. Note the length of time a company has been in business and read reviews from previous customers.
.Verify the mover’s claims, credentials and professional memberships. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. FMCSA assigns a unique motor carrier number that can be verified at protectyourmove.gov. Also make sure you know whether you are dealing directly with a mover, or with a broker (middleman) who will refer your job to a mover you don’t know. Scammers and fly-by-night operators won’t be able to substantiate a good reputation.
.Get it in writing. Get three written estimates from different movers based on visits to your home. Though professional movers do give quotes over the phone, it’s still a good idea to get written documentation of any and all services you are receiving. Also, remember that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic, low-ball offer, which may cost you more in the end.
.Talk about the money. Find out how and when payment is required. Many companies require up to a 10% deposit to secure your moving date and require payment before your belongings are delivered. Find out what your payment options are and what method of payment is available. Whenever available, use a credit card for payment as you have more recourse for disputing a charge if something should go wrong; avoid paying with cash-once it’s gone, it’s gone. Let your bank know that you are in the process of relocating in the event they notice increased or unusual charges on your credit card.
.Prepare for damage. Even though trustworthy movers are trained to handle your belongings and your home with care, it is difficult to move an entire household without at least some damage. Be sure to inquire about inadmissible and non-protected items, such as hazardous materials, jewelry, currency and others. Determine what is covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy and what is and is not covered under your replacement valuation protection. If you are arranging for other workers to be in and out of your home, consider documenting the conditions before and after access, in the event any property damage takes place.
.Protect your possessions. Consider accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate headaches after your move. Purchasing full (replacement) value protection from your mover means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. Make sure that your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Note that insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as a flat-panel television that doesn’t weigh very much may need additional replacement cost coverage in case they are damaged in transit. Find out what your household insurance will and won’t cover during a move.
.Take your valuables with you. Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs, and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.
Consumers can check bbb.org for free BBB Business Reviews companies that provide moving-related services, or for interstate moves turn to moving.org to find an AMSA-certified ProMover.
For more on moving scams, click here.
To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker. For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.