Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them
Avoid Getting Scammed by Disreputable Moving Companies
Whether it’s a move across Houston or across the country, moving can be a stressful ordeal. While hiring a reputable moving company to take care of packing, transporting, and unloading your belongings can save you lots of time and effort, making the mistake of hiring an illegitimate one can be a costly error. Rather than saving you the headache of moving, these unscrupulous, no-name moving companies may create a much bigger pain by attempting to bilk you out of more money than you had originally bargained for. Learn how these scammers operate and how, with just a little diligence and some research, you can avoid being duped on your next move.
What is a Moving Scam?
A moving scam is, as the name suggests, a scam perpetrated by moving companies. The most common type of moving scam is what is sometimes referred to as a “hostage-goods scam”. While it has many variations, the basic hostage-goods scam involves a moving company that gives a very reasonable price estimate to a prospective customer to move their items, and then, after securing the move and packing everything up, gives the customer a much higher price than what was originally quoted. With their possessions essentially being held hostage by the movers, duped customers often have little choice but to either cough up and pay the exorbitant moving fee or lose their belongings forever.
Another type of moving scam is called an advance-deposit scam. In this very simple scam, the movers require customers to pay an upfront deposit to have their good moved but never actually actually show up to move them.
How (and Why) Do They Happen?
The spring and summer months are usually the busiest time of year for movers. During this peak season, a number of no-name moving operations tend to pop up to take advantage of the increased demand for moving services. Unlicensed, uninsured, and sometimes without even a physical address to be tied to, these unscrupulous movers will often give out too-low-to-be-true quotes over the phone to potential customers, only to later ask for double, triple, or perhaps even quadruple the original fee once they’ve already got the goods packed up and in their possession. Apart from paying up and hoping to recover their losses from the movers in civil court later on, there is often very little recourse for homeowners in this situation, as police are usually reluctant to involve themselves in these matters. Of course, the best way to avoid getting ripped off by these types of illegitimate movers, is to steer clear of them in the first place.
What To Look Out For
Here are some of the biggest red flags to look out for when dealing with a moving company you’ve never used before that indicate that they might not be trustworthy:
- They give you a suspiciously low quote
- They refuse to do an on-site estim ate
- They don’t have an office or physical address
- They require a large down payment
- They don’t have a website
- They don’t have any online reviews
- They only accept cash
- They use unmarked moving trucks
Do Your Research
Doing a little bit of research before hiring a moving company is the best way to make sure your move is handled by a professional and trustworthy movers. A quick internet search of moving companies in your area, i.e. “moving companies in Houston” will reveal a number of companies with websites, reviews, and references. Asking for referrals from friends or neighbors is also a good idea when looking for a moving company to hire.