Don’t let scammers take you and all your possessions for a ride
Most moving companies that you’ll hire employ hardworking professionals who are eager to treat your things with the same care and attention that they treat their own—albeit with more training and skill.
However, sometimes scammers will try to take advantage of people by posing as moving companies, putting you and your belongings at risk. Here are some of the potential scams you need to look out for when hiring a local moving company.
Common Red Flags
Not all moving companies are the same, but most operate under a similar business model. When you hire a moving service, be on the lookout for these red flags.
1. The Price is Too Good to Be True
It’s essential to know the estimated cost of your move so that you will notice if a moving company’s price estimate is too low or too high. For example, the average move costs around $1,400 for an in-state move. Beware of low-ball bids that sound too good to be true, because normally, they are. If that’s the case, the moving company’s service quality may not be trustworthy.
2. Missing Contracts
Contracts not only protect you, but they also protect the moving company from any losses or damages during the moving process. If you choose to work with a moving company, they should provide a contract that outlines every aspect of the job, including the schedule, number of bedrooms, and allotted amount of time for the move.
If a moving company doesn’t require you to sign a contract ahead of your move, that’s a significant red flag. While not all moving companies that work without contracts are trying to run a scam, it does present a red flag that they likely aren’t experienced in taking on moving jobs.
3. Lack of Insurance
You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, so you shouldn’t trust someone to handle everything you own without a moving insurance policy that covers any losses or damages. Let's face it: Things can go wrong during your move, and you want to feel confident in your protection from any accidents.
A company that operates without an insurance policy may do so because they’re unable to get coverage, signaling they've had one too many things go wrong in the past to warrant trust from an insurance agency.
4. Negotiating the Price After Pickup
One of the most common moving company scams happens when movers pick up all of your belongings, load the moving truck, and then try to negotiate the price. Some companies will even threaten to hold your items hostage until their demands (a bigger payday) are met.
To avoid this type of scam, you should request customer references from movers to ensure that other moves have gone smoothly. You should also check the company’s online reviews to make sure that they have left a path of satisfied customers in their wake.
5. Requiring a Moving Deposit
If a moving company requires you to pay a large “moving deposit” ahead of moving day, that is a major red flag. The risk of the movers taking the deposit without completing the moving job is too high to consider it. Plus, if a moving service requests cash payment instead of offering various payment options, you should take your business to another company.
Questions to Ask Potential Moving Companies
Before hiring a moving company, take the extra step of asking a few questions to prevent more work down the line. Consider asking for specifics about your move, including:
What time will you arrive?
What happens if the move takes longer than your estimate?
At what point will you notify me if the price will change?
Will you accept payment after the truck is unloaded?
What happens if items are broken or damaged during the move?
What to Look For in a Moving Company Contract
Moving contracts are binding agreements, so you want to ensure that yours is accurate and covers all of the pertinent points of your move. Each contract should cover the following details of your move:
Services included: Will they pack last-minute items? Do you need to reserve the service elevator or is this something the mover will take care of? Your moving team should include these details in the description of services.
Moving day timeline: There should be a breakdown of what time the movers expect to arrive at your home and how long it will take them to load the truck, with another timeline for the reverse process.
Payment terms and amounts: The amount due, possible surcharges, and a payment method should be spelled out in your contract so you can avoid any confusion on moving day.
Liability and insurance clauses: Your contract should include a section where the moving company explains their insurance and liability policies. Ensure it outlines key elements like protection for your items, contractors getting hurt on the job, and any damage that occurs in the moving process.
A signature line: All legal contracts need signatures to make them binding, so make sure you and a representative from the moving company write down your John Hancocks.
Stay Alert for Moving Scams
While it’s essential to be aware of moving scams, most professionals are up to the task and will complete your move in an efficient way. Luckily, the pros in Angi’s system are vetted, so you can feel comfortable contacting them for more information.
Even though most contractors are ethical, you should still have the specifics of your job spelled out in your contract to protect you from any potential moving scam.