MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Monde Donaldson with the BBB in Mobile County says there have been 13,000 complaints about scammers with moving companies each year.
Donaldson says you need to know your mover, as a new study revealed price gouging, stealing, and destroying property.
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 maybe prompted by the coronavirus (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, hold their items hostage for additional undisclosed fees and leave them with damaged goods.
An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau (BBB) 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.
What are some tricks deceptive movers use?
1. Generic-sounding business names similar to those of reputable movers.
2. Sponsored links so they appear at the top of search results, often using the names of legitimate movers in order to steal traffic.
3. Below-market price quotes with the intent to get more money from victim’s later in the process.
4. Fake reviews from happy customers
How to avoid rogue operators and find an honest one:
- Don’t just use a simple internet search to find a mover. It is important to do a careful and extensive search to make sure you are dealing with an honest mover. After all, you are allowing someone you don’t know to drive away with almost everything you own. Check with the BBB or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can look up a mover’s license number on FMSCA’S website.
- Get three in-person or virtual estimates. Rogue operators rarely appear in person to give estimates. A low-priced estimate given over the phone can end up costing more than a legitimate moving charges.
- Get an estimate based on weight, not cubic feet. Scammers prefer to give estimates in cubic feet. Volume is easier to manipulate than weight so they can later claim additional charges.
- Get full value replacement liability protection. It costs a little more, but may be well worth the price. Interstate movers in the U.S. are legally required to offer coverage in their estimates.
- Watch out for large deposit or cash demands. Other than a small down payment, honest movers don’t have you pay until after they have delivered goods. So if the mover demands that you pay during the course of a move or when loading or delivering, you are dealing with a scammers.
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