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


Allowing someone you don’t know to drive away with your belongings is among the many stressful aspects of a long-distance move — especially if that move is complicated or may be prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, some consumers find their stress compounded by fraudulent movers who charge them many times the amount quoted, subject them to unreasonably long delivery windows, or even hold their items hostage for additional undisclosed fees and leave them with damaged goods.

An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau finds that scams are widespread in the moving industry, particularly when it comes to interstate moves. BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year, with many complaints describing 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 to consumers who do not do careful research before hiring a mover. Read the full study here.

How the moving scam works:

• The moving company may be helpful on the phone and may have a well-designed website claiming years of experience, well-trained workers, satisfied customers, and appropriate licensing.

• Red flags begin when the company is unable to make an in-person inspection and estimate.

• While they claim to be local, they are actually based out of state and paying for a local post office box address.

• The initial cheap quote soon balloons as the company claims you have more belongings than originally estimated, often based on improper calculations.

• The bad actor 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 some cases, 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.

The best way to avoid such a scam is to do careful research before hiring a moving company. Specifically, the report advises looking up a mover’s license number on FMCSA’s website and its BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.

What to do if you are the victim of a moving scam:

• File a report with local police.

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

• 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.

From Better Business Bureau

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