BBB Trends: Moving scams cause financial anguish; research company, beware of fraudulent movers

Allowing someone you didn’t know to drive away with your belongings is one of the many stressful aspects of a long distance move – especially when that move is complicated or can be triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, some consumers find their stress levels are compounded by fraudulent moving companies charging them multiples of the advertised amount, exposing them to unreasonably long delivery windows, or even holding their items hostage for additional, undisclosed fees, leaving them with damaged goods .

An in-depth research study by the Better Business Bureau found that fraud is widespread in the moving industry, especially with interstate moves. BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about moving companies each year. Many complaints describe how experiences with dishonest moving companies have turned into financial and emotional nightmares.

The research study – Know Your Mover: BBB Study Reveals Fraudulent Pricing Errors, Taking Items Hostage, and Destroying Goods – reveals the risk for consumers who do not do careful research before hiring a moving company. Read the full study here.

How the moving scam works:

• The moving company can be helpful on the phone and have a well-designed website with years of experience, well-trained staff, satisfied customers and appropriate licenses.

• Red flags begin when the company is unable to provide a personal inspection and appraisal.

• While claiming to be local, they are actually based out of state and paying for a local PO Box address.

• The initial cheap offer soon skyrockets as the company claims you estimated more belongings than you originally estimated, often based on incorrect calculations.

• The bad actor may ask for additional fees before loading and unloading the truck and may not deliver your goods until days or even weeks after you move in.

• In some cases, the company you originally paid for may not even be the company making your move. It may have hired local temporary workers to rent a truck or it may have acted as a broker with another company.

The best way to avoid such scams is to do a careful research before hiring a moving company. The report specifically recommends looking up a removal company’s license number on the FMCSA website and the BBB business profile at bbb.org.

What to do if you are a victim of a moving scam:– File a report with the local police.

• Go to BBB.org to file a complaint or report a scam on Scam Tracker.

• File an online complaint with the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238). While the regulator typically doesn’t represent individual victims, it does track complaints and request the removal company’s license number.

• Register with the insurer listed in your moving contract.

From the Better Business Bureau

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