Watch for Moving Scam Warning Signs

If a stranger approached you on a busy street requesting a pair of $10 bills for a five-spot, you’d likely send him on his way…along with his attempted scam.

But with big bucks instead of small change at stake, you might be surprised at how slick operators pretending to be reputable long-distance movers could hoodwink intelligent people.

Need proof? Government officials recently charged 12 individuals with defrauding more than 900 customers during a five-year period. The allegedly dishonest dozen reportedly filled their wallets via company-name switcheroos, bogus business practices and phony online reviews. Authorities are reaching out to the public to determine whether this multi-state scam—which included Missouri—suckered even more people.

So what did those hundreds of consumers miss along the way? What might have tipped them off they were being pickpocketed? Or, conversely, how do you ensure you choose a top-flight—rather than fly-by-night—operation?

Name game

Beware telltale signs an organization lacks permanence, which is a scam red flag. These include:

  1. no-name vehicles or rented trucks;
  2. websites missing a physical business address; or
  3. generic phone-call replies not mentioning a company name, such as, “Hello, moving and storage.”

One tactic the “dishonest dozen” reportedly used was frequently changing business names. These monikers often resembled those of well-respected companies, likely adding to consumers’ confusion. If “Public Moving Services” called itself “Smart Relocation Solutions” just six months ago and, two years before that was going by “Unified Van Lines,” find out why.

Wink of an eye

Generating an accurate moving quote requires attention to detail and a methodical approach—whether conducted in-person or via a virtual survey. Beware zoom-through-your-rooms estimators who don’t examine cabinet contents or open closet doors. A good survey is a two-way street: Your mover should be asking questions, such as if you’re planning to slim down your pre-move inventory by donating food or holding a garage sale. Especially be on-guard for mover companies who claim they can provide accurate phone-only estimates.

Pay now, move later

Reputable movers, such as Jackson Relocation, should not insist on an up-front deposit. Ethical home-mover practice is to request payment at time of delivery. Regard as suspect a relocation company that demands a deposit—particularly cash—before going forward. Don’t sign a contract that features only vague payment terms or incomplete information.

Scam tactics

Raise an eyebrow at interstate movers whose bids fall far below others. This low-ball tactic might be omitting a key component that could bring the final price in line with (or exceed) the competition.

Obtaining a minimum of three estimates from competitors will permit you to accurately analyze rates and services. The dishonest dozen’s scam scheme allegedly hit customers with last-minute four-figure fees. The alleged thieves sometimes would keep people’s belongings unless customers paid the inflated prices, government officials stated. Insist on written estimates to protect yourself.

Maverick movers

This age of instant online access makes vetting more convenient than ever. Ensure a mover is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—which regulates the U.S. trucking industry—and has a U.S. Department of Transportation number. The USDOT number indicates the federal government has authorized a company to conduct interstate moves.

Jackson’s Relocation Services is an agent for National Van Lines, a member of the American Moving & Storage Association—a non-profit moving-industry association—and an AMSA certified ProMover, the hallmark of a reputable cross-country mover. To obtain (and retain) ProMover status, AMSA members must pass an annual criminal background check, be FMCSA-licensed and follow specific ethical standards in advertising and customer transactions.

Don’t just trust the ProMover or AMSA logo on a company’s website. In fact, the organization recently requested an Arizona mover stop using an AMSA logo and cease claiming affiliation with the group. You easily can check a mover’s status by visiting AMSA’s website.

Fake feedback

Check a mover’s Better Business Bureau rating. (By the way, National Van Lines holds a BBB A+ rating.) How about online reviews? Yelp or Google review sites permit consumers to view and review a company, offering insight into company performance and how an interstate moving company handles unforeseen circumstances.

Is a company receiving a barrage of negative reviews? Beware. Online reviews can be faked. Therefore, take with a grain of salt an avalanche of over-the-top perfect reviews. In fact, the 12 alleged “rogue movers” are said to have perpetrated sham reviews to convince consumers of their credibility.

Jackson’s Relocation Services is the interstate moving company in Sedalia, Missouri who’ll go the distance for you. Contact us to learn how our status as not only one of the top moving companies in Missouri, but also one of the premier national moving companies, can make your life easier. Whether you’re seeking an interstate moving company or local movers in Sedalia, contact our team now for a moving quote at (660) 826-6898 or (800) 452-6683.

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