Working with movers is one of the best ways to make your move go smoothly. Unfortunately, there are a number of scams that can turn a relatively pleasant experience into something far more expensive and even potentially frightening. If you're looking to move, you'll want to take the following steps in order to avoid some of the most common moving scams.
Do Careful Research
Many of the most common moving scams are easier to avoid when you do a little bit of research on your own. Don't just contact a moving company because you see an ad online; instead, take the time to look up the company and figure out its reputation. Note that you can't always go by the national reputation of a company, as many moving companies franchised. Instead, you'll need to see how others in your region have dealt with the company in the past.
The best place to start with moving research is the Better Business Bureau. Multiple recent complaints should be a red flag, especially if they are in your area. It's also a good idea to look at recent Yelp, Google, and other moving reviews to get an idea of what the worst-case scenarios might look like for you.. Research is one of the best ways to find out if a moving company is legitimate.
Talk to Professionals
If you don't feel comfortable doing the research on your own, it can help to talk to professionals. If you are moving into a new home, you should ask your realtor about moving companies with which he or she has had experience. The realtor should be able to tap his or her client base to get some recommendations even if he or she doesn't have one handy. Likewise, those moving into an apartment complex can generally talk to management to find out if they have movers with whom they have worked in the past.
Remember that a recommendation is just one part of the puzzle - the movers that have worked well for past tenants won't necessarily work as well for you. If you are willing to ask around, though, you can generally get a good list of potential movers who you can trust not to walk away with your deposit or fail to show up on moving day.
Get it in Writing
Some of the most notorious moving scams tend to prey on the assumptions of clients. Movers will come out to your home and give you a quote on your move, only to bring you a bill that's much higher at the end of the process. Some of these movers will even threaten to keep your possessions unless you are willing to pay the higher bill.
If you want to avoid these scams, you need to get everything in writing ahead of time. Don't just get an estimate - get an itemized list of what every cost will be, including the maximum amount you can be charged for the move. If the mover can't do that, he or she likely cannot be trusted.
Trust Your Gut
Finally, try to be willing to trust your own gut. If a moving price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Absolutely nothing says that you have to work with a given mover so don't force yourself to work with someone who you can't trust. Call around, get multiple offers, and work with the mover who has policies and prices that make you feel the most comfortable. There's nothing wrong with walking away because you simply have a bad feeling about a mover.
Avoiding moving scams is largely a matter of doing your research and trusting your common sense. Always work with movers who have good reputations and a solid presence in your community. Working with the best may not always be the cheapest, but you'll definitely get that for which you have paid.