3 Common moving scams to be aware of in 2017
Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the United States Department of Transportation. But the sheer number of moving companies, overwhelms the high school classroom sized staff. Regulations are weak as well. Both factors make scams common.
Now, moving scams come in many flavors. But at its most fundamental, a moving scam starts with a possible client contacting the moving company and asking for a quote. Much of the interaction happens online in today’s internet-connected world. Some of these movers give low quotes – within reason. But the low-price reeks of low-quality service.
After agreeing to using the mover’s services, typically following a non-binding deal, they come to the home, pack up your stuff and what happens next depends on the type of scam. Watch our for these malevolent shady behaviors. And keep this information in mind as you consider questions to ask before you hire a moving company.
Hostage Goods Scam
A moving company moved your stuff and gave you a price. But once you get to your new home the company keeps your items. Plus, they try to make you pay a higher price. They may charge twice the original quote price. This is a ransom scam. You do not get your goods back until you pay up.
The scammers get you to use their services with a low price. Then, according to some reports, may charge up to four times as much to get your goods back. If you refused to pay, the scammers locked the items in a warehouse until they got paid. Often, they went above four times the original price.
In one 2003 case, a Far Rockaway, Queens couple wanted to move Jacksonville, Florida. The movers charged an estimate of $1,500. But then the movers upped the price to $6,800. The couple did not have a choice but to pay. They had young children. All their basic needs were on the truck. But they waited until they negotiated a price of $2,300. That was a year later. By then all of their children’s clothes molded; the furniture was broken.
Research your movers before you use them to avoid a scam like this one. Unlike the couple in 2003, the internet has more information now than ever.
A Washington Post reporter interviewed an expert in the field. This is what he had to say about moving scams.
Bill Borgman, senior vice president of Graebel Relocation, described a common hostage-goods situation: “Most of the scam artists have a few tractor-trailers and some warehouses, but relatively few. They will give a lowball estimate over the phone. The price will be too good to be true. They’ll want the consumer to give a deposit upfront of 25 percent of the total. They’ll make the arrangements, pick up your boxes and leave. Once they knock on your new front door, they’ll ask for a credit card or certified check for twice the amount. When the consumer doesn’t have it, they’ll drive away with all the goods. The consumer then gets an invoice for a grossly inflated amount, a bill for four or five times what they were originally going to pay.”
In this scam, the movers ask for a huge sum of money upfront but never show up.
Moving Broker Scam
Internet moving brokers charge one rate to move then increase the fee significantly. They require the fee to complete the move. This happens after the mover takes your possessions. The customers pay huge deposits too. Watch out for these companies. They often bear names similar to well-known brands.
Like the hostage goods scam, there are ways to protect yourself. Guard yourself by watching out for the following red flags:
The moving company does not want to inspect your items at your home; accept cash or a big upfront deposit before the move; lack a local address; and/or give extremely low estimates. Go the Better Business Bureau website and look at customer’s experiences with your prospective movers. You do not see a listing? Then that is cause for caution.
Follow these tips to enjoy an affordable, smooth transition.