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Beware of the scams movers are using this summer

With reports of movers scamming over 1,000 victims last year, look out for these red flags if you're moving in or out in the coming months

by CyberGuy Staff

Are you moving in the next few months?

May-August is the most popular time to move nationwide, but the summer is also when we see the most scams occurring during the moving process. The Better Business Bureau reports 42% of inquiries surrounding moving companies came in during this time last year, and they received almost 1,100 complaints in 2021 against moving companies. Victims reported losing over $730,000 to moving scams in 2021, which is a 216% rise from 2020.

So how can you avoid these moving scams, and what should you do if you’re targeted by your next movers?

 

Summer 2022 moving scams

1. The stolen belongings

This is the worst-case scenario when it comes to moving. This is when the movers completely disappear with your property after fully loading up a truck and saying they’re headed to your destination. No matter how prepared you are with organization or an itinerary, there’s not much you can do if your boxes are completely stolen and never arrive at your new home. Be sure to check out our tips later on for our suggestion on how to track back stolen items while moving.

 

2. The false quote

This is the scam that proves why you need to have everything in writing. If you receive a quote only over the phone for your fees for moving day, you may be shocked when the movers decide to leave you with no choice but to pay more on the spot. Some scammers will act as if moving day is going smoothly, before changing their tune to say your belongings are heavier than expected. They may find an excuse about weight, what fits where, or even about how they load the items being moved, and eventually request you pay more money for those sudden inconveniences.

If you don’t have a contract in writing, you may feel forced to hand over extra cash since your items are already in the fraudster’s truck.

 

3. The non-refundable deposit

This isn’t the nonrefundable deposit that we’re used to or agree to. Some fake moving companies will communicate with someone, provide a quote and request a deposit for moving services, and then simply never show up. This could be a mover’s worst nightmare if you’re moving your belongings on a deadline, like a lease ending.

 

 

How to avoid getting scammed while moving

1. Do your research beforehand

Ask friends and neighbors if they recommend any movers. Also, be sure the moving company has a website and reviews somewhere like Google. If there isn’t an address and phone number listed, find another moving company.

2. Keep a paper trail

It’s important to get everything in writing when it comes to moving. You want to be sure you have a contract to protect yourself and the movers, and you should require insurance and the mover’s registration. Don’t be afraid to look into and ask questions about with whom you’ll be trusting your prized possessions.

3. Inventory your belongings

Keep an inventory of your belongings. You can label your boxes the old-fashioned way, but it’s highly recommended you keep a list for yourself.  Feel free to use your smartphone to take photos of boxes and items, and label them so you can remember where you put everything. This will come in handy if anything ends up missing.

4. Be wary of large payments ahead of the move

While a deposit is often standard. if you’re asked for larger sums of money before you even get to moving day, make sure you know where your money is going – and if you’ll ever get it back.

5. Use Apple AirTags to keep an eye on your property

We recommend using two AirTags or a similar Bluetooth tracker per moving van. If you place one AirTag somewhere obvious, like towards the top of a box that’s easily opened and not fully taped shut, the mover will be able to find it in case they receive a notification of a nearby AirTag.  But if you place a second AirTag somewhere deeper down in a moving box, you’ll have a better shot at keeping an eye on where your boxes are headed.

Related: How to use a Bluetooth tracker to recover stolen property

6. Find accredited movers using the Better Business Bureau

Head to the BBB’s site to find a list of accredited moving companies in your area that have been reviewed.

 

What to do if your movers scam you

  1. Contact local police if your items or money has been stolen
  2. File a complaint with the BBB against the moving company and report it on Scam Tracker
  3. Contact Move Rescue, a team who will help reach out to carriers for you if you’ve been scammed
  4. If you had a moving contract, file a claim with the insurer listed in your moving contract

 

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1 comment

Linda Kaufmann July 9, 2022 - 7:06 am

We moved from TX to WA 2 years ago. My husband made arrangements for a mover. They quoted him $7,000.00 for the move. I thought that was a little high but we didn’t have much choice. When the movers arrived at our house they counted the boxes and said the price would have to be $20,000!! Yikes! Oh and they wanted 70% of that amount that very day. Double yikes! We told them to hit the road. So $14,000 and all our stuff and maybe they’d show up at our new house. I had my doubts.

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