Tips for dealing with fraudulent moving companies

Moving is not easy at the best of times. And hiring the wrong movers can make it infinitely harder. Unfortunately, moving scams are a reality and a much more common one than you may expect. If you’re not careful and don’t vet your potential movers thoroughly, you may just end up dealing with fraudulent moving companies during your relocation. When that happens, your whole relocation can quickly turn into a nightmare. So what can you do to recognize, avoid or, if it comes to it, deal with a moving scam? Here are some useful tips!

Avoid dealing with fraudulent moving companies altogether

The best way of dealing with fraudulent moving companies is to avoid them altogether. Of course, as everyone who’s dealt with bad movers in the past knows, hindsight is 20/20. It’s knowing ahead of time where to find the best moving companies in Miami and how to avoid the ones that are not legitimate that’s hard. Luckily, there are certain red flags that you can be on the lookout for which can help you see a moving scam for what it is.

a woman at the laptop
Avoid fraudulent moving companies altogether by doing research and hiring reliable movers.

Spotting a moving scam

It is an unfortunate truth that moving scams have been on the rise in the last couple of years. So when you’re looking for movers Doral this year, telling legitimate moving companies apart from the scammers will be crucial. Here are some major red flags!

Unclear licensing information

Any moving company must have a license if they are to operate legally. A legitimate moving company will, therefore, not hide their licensing information or make it hard to verify. If you are unable to obtain a USDOT number for a search from the movers’ website or representatives, it’s best not to gamble on them!

Estimates without an in-person visit

No matter how good or experienced movers are, an accurate estimate requires seeing the house and possessions in person (or at least on video). Any company that offers to give you an estimate based only on data you enter online or give over the phone should be suspicious.

Bad reputation and negative reviews

Reputation is everything to movers as they rely on customer feedback to attract potential clients. So if they are unverified on Better Business Bureau or have overwhelmingly negative feedback on moving websites and social media, you are probably dealing with fraudulent moving companies.

Dealing with fraudulent moving companies

But let’s say you’ve already landed in a moving scheme. Is there a way out? How does dealing with fraudulent moving companies work when you’re already their victim?

Know your rights and protect yourself beforehand

Once you pick you movers and start working with them, there will be a lot of documents to sign. Don’t be lazy – read all contracts before you sign them! Yes, even the fine print! Be sure that what you’re signing is exactly what you’ve agreed to.

Unsigned contract.
Be very careful with what you’re signing.

This is how you will learn about your rights and what you can do in case something goes wrong. If you’re worried about something, seek legal counsel. Movers who advise you against that or don’t let you have your contracts verified by a lawyer probably have something to hide!

Learn about the common schemes so you can recognize them

While there are many different moving scams out there, their techniques tend to all be pretty similar. In fact, most moving scams are a variation on one of the following tricks:

  • sudden price increases, often after non-binding estimates
  • the good old-fashioned bait-and-switch
  • invented additional charges

The more you know about these scams, the easier they will be to recognize and avoid.

Non-binding estimates and price increases

It’s the simplest technique fraudulent moving companies use and one that has been around for quite some time: they will give you an estimate that sounds legitimate, then suddenly increase the price once the process is underway. Then, if you refuse to pay the higher price, they refuse to release your possessions back to you. To avoid this, get all relevant moving estimates in writing and make sure they’re binding.

The bait-and-switch method

With the bait-and-switch method, the fraudulent movers will give you a low estimate up front, then claim the weight and volume of things you’re moving is greater than they expected and ask for more money because of it. Once again, the best solution is to get a binding or binding-not-to-exceed estimate in writing beforehand. And remember, if the estimate seems to good to be true, it’s probably a scam!

Imaginary additional charges

Another common method for fraudulent movers to get more money out of you is to add additional charges to your bill that you never agreed to. Usually, they will charge you for some extra moving services that you never asked for. So save yourself a lot of trouble and read the moving contract properly before signing it to avoid this kind of scam!

After the fact, take it up with your movers first

If you suspect or know that you have been scammed, try talking to your movers first. There’s still a chance that everything was just a mistake or misunderstanding. And even if it wasn’t, a fraudulent moving company may find a way to settle with you peacefully in order to avoid legal action or bad reputation that can expose them.

Leave a bad moving review

If that doesn’t work, consider leaving a negative review on the company’s website, moving review websites and social media.

Frowny face selected for review.
Sometimes, a negative moving review is enough for a settlement.

Remember – movers (even fraudulent ones) rely on their reputation to attract new clients. A negative review may spur them into settling with so you’ll take it down. And if it doesn’t, at least you’ll have warned others!

Dealing with fraudulent moving companies through legal means

Finally, sometimes there is no other way of dealing with fraudulent moving companies than through legal means. So if you can’t work things out with the movers directly, file a formal complaint through the FMCSA, AMSA, and BBB. You may even want to consult a lawyer and file a lawsuit in a claims court. Good luck!