So, how do I avoid these moving scams?
Did you know that AARP has called America ‘a nation on the move?’ Over 35 million families a year relocate – and interstate move complaints have increased 25% in the last two years. About 3,000 complaints were filed last year by people who hired interstate movers either on line or phone.
If I asked you your worst fear about moving, you might say that you fear the movers breaking something of value, or that something might get lost in the transition. However, one thing that many may not consider is that the company you hired could be a scam company that will either hold your entire belongings hostage until you fork over a hefty wad of cash, or even worse — will sell all of your possessions. Unfortunately, moving scams have been on the rise in the last 10 years or so with the number of Internet vendor sites that are able to fake credentials and testimonials on the side.
Let’s start the conversation with questions you need to ask if you are planning to move:
- How do they answer the phone? Does the salesman use a generic label such as “moving company” or “movers” when picking up the call? You may be dealing with a moving broker and not the actual moving company.
- Where’s the firm located? Beware of any moving company that lacks a brick-and-mortar address. Post office boxes and Internet websites don’t count. If possible, visit the firm’s place of business before signing anything.
- Is the moving truck part of a company fleet? In other words, do the movers show up in a rented vehicle with a magnetic sign affixed to the door? If so, demand a return of your deposit.
- Will they come to your house before the move? If they won’t, look elsewhere. Legitimate firms will spend time checking out logistics so they can develop an accurate estimate. They may even provide helpful packing tips. Con artists have another goal: extracting money from your wallet.
- Will the company honor claims for damages? Even professional movers sometimes break items in transit. The company should have a clear-cut process for dealing with claims, and their policies should be in writing. The firm should also offer full-value protection (for an additional charge). Under such policies, the company is obligated to provide cash settlement to repair or replace lost or damaged items at current market values.
Before moving day, get at least three estimates. Ask for recommendations from the real estate agent who’s handling your sale. Verify the company’s Department of Transportation and Motor Carrier licenses. Find out how long the firm has been in business, and follow up on references. Finally, check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
This is Part 1 of a series that The Boomer Explorer will feature on moving scams. These scams happen more often than you would like to know. If you think it couldn’t happen to you, then you are sorely mistaken.
On Thursday, The Boomer Explorer will continue with 7 tips to help you avoid scammers with your moving process.
Join the dialogue on moving scams…let us know your experiences and tips dealing with moving scams.
As always, I am…the Boomer Explorer.