Learn about the red flags of household goods moving fraud before you move.
Rogue movers typically work like this: Without ever visiting your home or seeing the goods you want moved, they give a low-ball estimate over the phone or Internet. Once your goods are on their truck, they demand more money before they’ll deliver or unload them. They hold your goods hostage and force you to pay more—sometimes much more than you thought you had agreed to—if you want your possessions back.
Your best defense is to recognize a rogue mover before they have your goods. Here are the “red flags” to look out for:
No “visual” estimate
- The mover doesn’t offer or agree to an on-site inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the phone or Internet—sight-unseen. These estimates often sound too good-to-be-true. They usually are.
- Note: Movers are legally permitted to offer an estimate without doing an in-home “visual” estimate, and oftentimes these are legitimate and fine. But, if the mover does not do a visual estimate, they must get a waiver signed by the shipper if the address is located within 50 miles from the movers office/warehouse.
- The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
- Note: It is perfectly legal and common practice for movers to request a deposit at the time of reservation. So long as the mover outlines the payment schedule in its tariff, the mover may collect a deposit at the time of reservation. This often ranges anywhere from $100 up to 20% or more of the total estimated cost of the move. This deposit may or may not be refundable if the shipper decides not to move. Contact the carrier and ask for a written explanation of the carrier’s cancellation policy before booking your move.
Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move
- The mover doesn’t provide you with a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” a booklet movers are required by Federal regulations to supply to their customers in the planning stages of interstate moves.
- You are also required to receive a copy of “Ready to Move.”
No local address, license or insurance
- The company’s website has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance.
- The company’s website is required to include license and contact information.
- The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance.
- Moving companies are required to offer no-cost, $0.60 per pound as well as Full Value Protection (FVP). FVP coverage is offered to the shipper at a cost.
No company name
- When you call the mover, the telephone is answered with a generic “Movers” or “Moving company,” rather than the company’s name.
- Sometimes, movers will operate under multiple names. One company might get a bad reputation and then change names to try and hide the bad reputation.
- Offices and warehouse are in poor condition or nonexistent.
Generic Rental truck
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned and marked fleet truck.
- Note: There is no law that says movers cannot rent trucks. This is perfectly legitimate, especially on busy days, for honest movers.