How to spot moving scams

Almost 15% of the US population is moving each year. Consequently, a large number of moving companies operate throughout the US. And even though, a large percentage of those companies operate in a professional and law-abiding manner. There are still lots of fraudulent moving companies that are waiting for naïve and unprepared customers to fall into their trap. Especially as the laws that regulate moving business doesn’t seem to follow the actual state of matter. Therefore, before you start acquiring moving quotes Pittsburgh, you need to learn a little bit about how reliable moving companies function. And how to recognize them. On the other hand, you should also familiarize yourself on how frauds operate and how to spot moving scams on time.

How fraudulent moving companies operate

All moving scams operate similarly. They will give you a quote, pick up your things, and then ask for a significantly larger sum than previously agreed. If you don’t want to pay they will keep your items hostage until you pay up. There were cases where people lost all of their possessions or were waiting for months to get them.

Example of how scammers operate

There was a famous case in Florida, where a group of scammers had opened more than 15 illegal moving companies. First, they would regularly register a moving company. Then they spread around the internet to leave fake positive reviews on moving-related websites, to get the customers flowing. When a customer calls them to get an estimate, the offer would be very affordable, and therefore appealing to many.

secretary on the phone talking
Fraudulent movers will give you very low non-written estimate when you call them

A customer that accepts the offer would soon be very surprised. After they would pick up your belongings, they would call the client and ask for a significantly higher sum. Of course, when they get the hold of your possessions, there are no options but to pay.

Naturally, some customers would refuse to pay, and report the company to the authorities. That is when they would close the moving company that is in dispute, and register a new one under a different name, but with the same workers, trucks, and everything. As mentioned above, these scammers were caught after 15, or more opened companies. And even though, this was a Florida case, if you are moving to Pittsburgh you need to be equally careful.

Hiring professionals is the best way to avoid potential moving scams

The best way to avoid moving scams is to hire a professional and reliable moving company. Of course, that is easier said than done. To be able to spot moving frauds on time, you need to know how regular moving companies work. And you need to know where to look. A company’s website, for example, is the first place where you would look, but it is not the place to inspect them properly.

Do your research well before you accept a low estimate

If you are moving on a budget, you would be tempted to accept the lowest estimate for your move. But most of the moving scams hide in low estimates. Fraudulent moving companies need to work fast if they want to make a profit. And offering very low estimates is the quickest way to acquire a large number of clients. So, when you are moving on a budget you need to be extra careful not to fall into the trap of accepting the lowest quote. If you are not sure how to find a reliable moving company with low prices, search the internet and learn how to find and hire affordable movers Pittsburgh properly.

Search the internet, ask for recommendations from friends or look for ads in newspapers to avoid scammers

The best way to spot moving scams is to check for their credentials. Numerous moving-related forums and websites will be very handy in this process. So the internet is the best place to start your search. Of course, if you know someone that moved recently you can also ask for their experience, as well. You can also look for ads in local newspapers. Scammers usually avoid putting legal ads in newspapers. And that is the place where only legal companies advertise.

Read internet reviews to spot moving scams

Reading the reviews is your first step. Of course, as there were scammers that tried to rig the reviews, you can’t be too sure about this. Search for reviews that sound natural, and not too gratifying for the moving company that you are investigating. The natural thing would be also to find some negative reviews on a certain percentage. If you find a company with only positive reviews, you need to suspect that something is wrong.

woman typing on a laptop
Reading the reviews online is only the begging.

Use BBB.org to spot moving scams on time

Check the moving company on the Better Business Bureau’s web site. This helpful website will give you more information on the moving company you are interested in than anything else. You can read reviews, see complaint section, and see custom ratings awarded by customers. You can also find their accreditations and all other important information that you could be interested in.  

Spot moving scams by paying attention to offered estimates

Moving estimates could be your defense against fraudulent movers. Professional moving companies always offer binding estimates in written form. And that is what your mover should offer you, too. If the moving company that you are negotiating refuses to give you a written binding estimate, only offering verbal one, or they are giving you a written non-binding estimate, you should know that you are most likely talking to the frauds.

Document with signature field
A moving company should give you a written estimate

Check if they are a member of AMSA to easily spot moving scams

Every reliable and professional moving company in the US is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA). If you find a company that is not a member of this group, you better skip it. Of course, there are moving companies that are reliable and professional but that are not members of AMSA, but those are rare exceptions.

Moving companies should have licenses and insurance

Besides membership in moving associations that are not required, but could be a good sign, moving companies in PA need to have licenses to operate in the moving industry. And they also need to have insurance. So, before you start doing business with a moving company check if they have all the required paperwork. 

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