Imagine carefully planning your move to save money only to be ripped off by a rogue moving company. Sounds like a nightmare. Although government authorities have been doing everything to purge the country of moving scams, there are still rogue operators out there. The best thing you can do to prevent getting scammed is to identify whether your potential company is reputable.
Below are five major red flags to avoid when hiring a mover:
1. The Mover Isn’t Licensed
The most basic difference between a rogue and legitimate moving company is a license. If your potential movers can’t provide one, just move on.
Here are some licenses and credentials your movers should be able to present:
- USDOT number: Obtaining a USDOT number is proof that an interstate moving company has cleared all the requirements to be authorized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation. You can check this number on the FMCSA website.
- State license number: In-state or local movers are governed at a state level. Check with your state licensing agency to determine whether the mover you’re working with has the appropriate licensing for your state.
- BBB accreditation: The Better Business Bureau is a private organization that aims to provide a trustworthy marketplace for every American. It helps maintain standards for businesses and exposes fraudulent schemes.
- ProMover title. This title is rewarded by the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) to moving companies with a healthy and proven track record. It will help you distinguish between professional movers and scammers.
2. Movers Don’t Visit Your Home to Provide an Estimate
If you request a quote and your would-be-movers tell you the price over the phone, don’t bother with them. A legitimate moving company typically sends a representative over to inspect your home. This agent surveys your belongings to get an idea of the number of items to be moved, the size of your furniture, and potential obstacles, such as stairs and narrow hallways, etc. After the evaluation, the representative will provide you an estimate.
Movers who don’t exert effort to perform an in-home estimate are only after your money. There’s a high chance that they’ll lure you in with a low-priced quote. The moment you pay the deposit, you either won’t see them again, or they’ll increase the price of the move.
3. Missing Contract or Incomplete Paperwork
In every financial transaction, a contract is always necessary. It protects you and the other party from future misunderstandings. You should never rely on verbal agreements. So if the mover fails to manifest a contract, that’s a massive red flag.
However, just because a contract is provided doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Rogue movers are becoming more innovative. Some will prepare documents but with hidden loopholes. Remember to read what’s written on paper before you sign an agreement.
Another thing you should look out for is the company name on the contract. Check if it’s the same name as the movers you’re dealing with. Most rogue companies like to go by multiple names to avoid affiliation.
4. Demanding a Large Deposit
Stay away from moving companies that ask you to drop a huge sum before initiating the move. Legit movers would never do that. The standard process is to have movers complete the relocation first before asking for payment.
In scenarios where you pay a large deposit, the movers might hold your items hostage. They will demand additional fees in cash before you can get your belongings back. And you’ll be pressured to pay the remaining amount since you’ve already invested a lot.
5. No Online Presence
Rogue movers are like financial assassins. They lure you into a trap, butcher your budget, and then leave without a trace. That’s why most of them have a website. You’ll find it difficult to get any information about them online.
Make sure to check reviews about your potential company. Other customers’ experiences will likely be your experience, as well.
Additional Tips for Hiring a Trusted Moving Company
Besides watching out for red flags, here’s a bit of extra advice from Cheap Austin Movers, a cheap Austin moving company to ensure you don’t get scammed:
- Friend referrals. Nothing’s more trustworthy than the words of someone close to you. Ask them for recommendations and additional warnings to avoid.
- Ask for service awards. A legit moving company will be proud to show you its achievements or proof of excellent performance.
If you’re planning to save on a move, the first thing you should do is to avoid getting conned. So don’t neglect your research, take note of the red flags above, and you’ll be good to go!