May tends to be the busiest month out of the year for switching residences. This may be due to moving to college, moving home from college, taking advantage of moving while schools are out for the summer or moving during good weather conditions.
Whatever the reason, it is always necessary to be on the lookout for scams and untrustworthy businesses so you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Complaints with BBB against moving companies nationwide have been on the rise since 2016. In 2016, 6,024 complaints were filed with BBB regarding moving companies. That number increased to 7,354 in 2017 and increased again to 8,024 in 2018.
BBB warns consumers of the following common tactics to be aware of:
• Hold your belongings. Untrustworthy movers may provide you with an estimate and then add extra fees once they have your belongings. In order to get your items back, you’ll eventually have to pay whatever additional fees they charge you.
• Raise the estimate. They might sell you on a low price, then raise it at the last minute. By the end of your move, the cost is double or triple the price you originally agreed upon.
• Deliver items late. Sometimes, disreputable movers deliver items late because your belongings are packed behind someone else’s and theirs must be delivered first, breaking promises of on-time deliveries.
• Take off. Some untrustworthy movers are scammers who take your payment, load up your belongings and flee. This allows them to get away with your money and possessions.
BBB also wants to offer these tips for how to avoid moving scams during National Moving Month:
• Don’t fall for a fake company. Double check that the mover is legitimate by making sure they have an actual physical address. Also, be sure that the representative you speak with works for that mover.
• Don’t give a large upfront deposit. Be wary of movers who request a large cash deposit up front; they are most likely to take your money and run.
• Pay credit. When you pay cash, there is no evidence of a transaction. If something goes wrong or items go missing, you can’t prove you paid for the service.
• Look for a branded truck. Real moving businesses will more than likely have real moving trucks that show their branding and logos.
• Never sign a partial contract. Do not sign a contract until all the details and prices are included in the contract. Always read through the completed contract to make sure all desired goods and services are included.
• Consider full value protection. Although it costs a bit more, it offers peace of mind and may save you a hassle after you move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.
• Research the movers. Always check out business profiles on bbb.org to see a company’s rating and reviews. You can also visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at protectyourmove.gov to verify that your interstate mover is licensed by the federal government.
Lauren Galley is the regional director for the Bryan-College Station office of Better Business Bureau.