Heading to a New Home? Watch Out for These Moving Scams

Heading to a New Home? Watch Out for These Moving Scams

You’ve gone through all the ups and downs of finding a new house. You’ve secured your mortgage, closed on the property, and taken all of the right steps along the way. Now it’s just time to move all of your possessions into your new home.

Easy enough… right?

Unfortunately, moving can be a huge hassle in its own right. It can be incredibly stressful to pack up all of your worldly possessions and transport them, whether it’s across town or across the country.

And while there are plenty of movers around who can help make the process much easier, there are also companies eager to nickel and dime desperate movers with less-than-honorable tactics. Realtor.com recently published an excellent article detailing some of the most common moving “scams” to watch out for. Here are three big ones to keep in mind:

1.) Holding Your Items Hostage

How It Works: In this tried and true tactic, the moving company loads your items onto the truck, and perhaps even drives the truck to the new location, before demanding the client pay another charge in order to unlock the truck and unload their cargo.

By some metrics, this is an unbelievably common upcharging tactic; data from the Protect Your Move organization suggests that one in ten people who move every year report “that the moving company held furniture hostage until the customers forked over more money,” according to Realtor.

What You Can Do: To avoid losing access to some of your most precious cargo, make sure you demand to see all of the moving company’s fees and projected expenses in writing, upfront. While it may be slightly more of a hassle, you can also take control over your move by making it what Realtor calls a “hybrid” project: That is, reserve and drive your own rental truck, but hire hourly movers to load and unload it. This will save you time and money and assure that you’re always “hands-on” with your goods.

2.) Lowballing the Estimate

How It Works: There are two major ways that some unscrupulous moving companies get away with “lowballing” their estimates. Some companies simply offer a deliberately low estimate upfront, only to pile on buried charges – protection fees, toll and fuel charges – on the day of the move. And some large interstate moving companies, which charge by weight, provide a low estimate based on the weight of their empty, unfueled truck, only to increase their price based on the day of “weigh in,” now with a full truck, moving materials, and a crew on board.

What You Can Do: The experts at Realtor encourage consumers to “always avoid getting a weight-based quote;” and in the cases where it’s unavoidable, remember that federal law allows customers to be present at a reweigh. And as always, if an estimate seems too good to be true, it may well be – take every quote with a grain of salt and be sure to always get written confirmation of pricing and fees, rather than relying on a verbal contract.

3.) The Broker Scam

How It Works: The two tactics we discussed above are the bread and butter of shady moving organizations. The “broker scam,” however, is a true scam, in the classic sense of the word. In this case, fake movers – “brokers” – book a move over the phone or via the internet. Once the upfront deposit is paid, this company either disappears entirely, or outsources the actual labor to another moving company, which typically has no idea that the “brokers” already charged the consumers upfront. This lack of communication could quite possibly lead to another charge that the consumer will be on the hook for.

What You Can Do: Always do your research before undertaking a move. Thoroughly research any company you’re considering – including its complaint history – and only do business with registered movers with established business histories. And be sure to see if the company offers insurance – if they don’t, they may not be suitably licensed to be handling your move.

Of course, not every moving company is out to get you! There are plenty of reputable, excellent movers in the Chicagoland area. Looking for a recommendation or some real estate advice? Why not drop Real Group a line! Our team would be happy to help you find the service that’s right for you.

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