San Jose – June 30, 2020 – Letting someone you don’t know drive away with your belongings is one of many stressful aspects of moving, especially if that move is complicated or prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, fraudulent movers will charge many times the amount quoted, subject you to unreasonably long delivery windows, hold your items hostage for additional undisclosed fees and damage your belongings.
A study by Better Business Bureau (BBB) finds that scams are widespread in the moving industry, especially with interstate moves. BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year, in which consumers describe how experiences with dishonest moving companies have turned into financial and emotional nightmares.
The investigative study – Know Your Mover: BBB Study Reveals Scammers Price Gouge, Taking Belongings Hostage and Destroy Goods – highlights the risk if you fail to do careful research before hiring a mover.
“Even a fraudulent moving company may seem helpful on the phone and have an attractive website boasting many years of experience, well-trained workers, satisfied customers and appropriate licensing,” says Steve McFarland, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. “However, you should beware when the company claims to be unable to make an in-person inspection and estimate; while the company may say it’s local, in reality it’s based out of state and paying for a local post office box address.”
McFarland says an initial low-ball quote soon balloons as the company claims – often based on improper calculations – that you have more belongings than originally estimated.
The mover may demand additional fees before loading and unloading the truck, and it may not deliver your goods until days or even weeks after you move in. In fact, the company you originally paid may not even be the company conducting your move; it may have hired local temporary workers who rented a truck, or it may have acted as a broker with another company.
“Most people only move a few times in their lives, so hiring a mover may be an unfamiliar process that leaves them vulnerable to scams,” says McFarland. “The good news is that there are plenty of reputable movers. Unfortunately, they’re competing against some movers that just don’t care about ethics. This puts the burden on consumers to do thorough research to avoid excessive expense and heartache.”
BBB says the best way to avoid such a scam is to do careful research before hiring a moving company, such as looking up a mover’s license number on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website and its BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.
If you’re the victim of a moving scam:
- File a report with local police.
- Contact MoveRescue at moverescue.com or (800) 832-1773.
- Go to BBB.org to file a complaint or report a scam on Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker
- File an online complaint with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238). While the regulator typically does not represent individual victims, it does track complaints and will request the mover’s license number.
- File a claim with the insurer listed in your moving contract.