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These days, it seems that anyone with a van can slap on a company logo, list their number in the yellow pages, and promote themselves as a legitimate moving company. Over the last few decades, the moving industry has become increasingly competitive and often difficult to legislate due to the closing of the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission and the anonymity the Internet affords scammers. As the laws surrounding moving company protocol are somewhat murky, disputes between customers and moving companies are common, and typically evolve into a case of he said/she said with no written contract or paper trail to determine when legitimate moving scams have occurred. For a customer, the best method of protection against moving scams is to identify the most common types of fraud instigated by moving companies.
One of the most common moving scams involves the moving company giving a customer a low verbal quote or “low ball price” and then charging them much more once the work is completed. Often, moving companies that intend in advance to pull moving scams will use the customer’s possessions as leverage, and threaten to withhold all or some of the possessions on their truck unless the full cost is paid. To minimize the chances of being scammed in this way, customers should always insist on getting a hard copy quote or contract rather than a verbal quote from their movers. If the quote given to the customer is within a cost range or a per pound quote, the customer should ask for a clause in their quote which confirms that the moving charge will not exceed X amount.
In recent years, the anonymity of the Internet has enabled companies plotting moving scams to pose as phony moving brokerage companies. Whereas legitimate brokers facilitate the matching of shippers and smaller carriers to customers, there are also thousands of scam brokers who promise false costs to customers, and cut off contact or switch names once the service is performed.
Some methods of prevention against moving scams include asking for the moving company’s full legal name, address and phone numbers, the number of years they’ve been in operation, customer references, and their Department of Transport license numbers. Customers should also always ensure that their quote is on a per-pound basis rather than per-cubic square foot, as per-cubic square foot quotes for interstate moves are illegal, and movers are required to provide proof of weight at no cost to the customer.
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