Moving can be a stressful time. While the top five moving day songs can help with that stress, you may be wondering about the people who are bringing your things from the old apartment to the new one.
Are your movers scamming you? While there’s rarely a neon sign in their office advertising “Scammers-R-Us,” there are some good ways to tell if things are not above board.
Are Your Movers Scamming You?
Get It In Writing
One of the most common example of movers scamming you is to give you a verbal estimate only and then to bill double or triple that amount before they’ll release your things. Estimates should always be in writing, as should most other things. Costs can change for legitimate reasons, but the written estimate should lay out how much you’re being charged, for what, and under what circumstances the cost might change. It should also lay out policies for payment and release of your property on arrival. Getting it in writing also helps to avoid the unsavory sorts of movers who would hold your things hostage. Often people who operate that way are reluctant to put anything in writing.
Make Sure They’re Operating Legitimately
Does your state (or states, if you’re moving between states) require movers to be registered? Many do. Does the company name they’re operating under actually exist? That’s generally easy to check online. Since trucking is interstate commerce, even when it’s within the bounds of a state, there may be a Federal registration that should be checked as well.
Just as importantly, make sure they’re properly insured. They will offer you insurance, no doubt, but are they insured? Make sure they have proper coverage for their liability to you as well as for their liability to others if there were to be an accident while they’re moving your things. Remember, you contracted them to do a job for you, so if they hit someone while doing that job, you could be named in the victim’s lawsuit as well!
Are They Asking For Too Much Up Front?
They have your stuff as collateral, they know they’ll get paid. That’s why asking for a massive payment up front can be a sign of movers scamming you. They may plan to hold your things hostage, or they may just disappear into the night with your down payment and never actually render any services. Be especially wary if that large down payment needs to be paid with cash or check only – credit cards give you the protection of a chargeback if the movers are scamming you, cash and check offer no such protections.
Do They Act Like A Business?
Does the address on their website exist, or is it a mailbox rental outfit in a local strip mall? When you call, do they answer the phone with a business name, something generic like “moving company,” or something indicative of a personal phone number like “‘Whassup?” Generic can be an indication that they operate under multiple company names which could be a red flag. Personal greetings or voicemail greetings are generally a big red flag.
From time to time, the person they send out to look over your things and give an estimate or even the driver might have a need to call you from a cell phone, maybe even their personal one, but when establishing the initial contact it’s best to be aware of signs like this.
If they send someone to do an estimate, it’s fine for them to show up in a personal or unmarked vehicle. If their trucks are unmarked, that’s an indication that the movers may be trying to scam you. Who wouldn’t want the advertising? Besides, there are certain markings required to appear on commercial vehicles like trucks. If those are missing, you’ve definitely got a problem.
So Are Your Movers Scamming You?
Look for these signs, and make sure to pay attention to how professional you feel they are at the initial contact. The more professional they are, the less likely that the movers are scamming you. It never hurts to search them online, either, though many smaller companies won’t have reviews posted. Be aware, and keep yourself, your property, and your wallet safe. Moving scams can be quite profitable, so there’s a strong motivation for certain people to try to take your money.
And when you get to your new home, make sure to get renters insurance to protect your property once it’s all moved in. It only takes a few minutes, and costs surprisingly little. If you’re being reimbursed for the move by an employer, you might even be able to get them to cover part of the cost.