Financial Tips

Learn Ways To Protect Yourself From Moving Scams

Moving to a new home can be exciting but the move itself can be nerve-wracking, especially if you get caught in a moving scam.

These scams can involve big last-minute charges, goods being held hostage, and missing items.

You can help minimize the chances of being scammed by taking the time to find a qualified mover and carefully reading all documents before signing anything. The Internet is a great source for advice about movers and your rights.

Here are some things to do and watch for when moving to another part of town or across the country:

  • Research moving companies well before you have to move. Are they licensed and insured? Look up online reviews and ask family, friends or real estate agents for recommendations. You can find links for researching movers at protectyourmove.gov.
  • Experts say to get a least three estimates. Don’t just go with the lowest price because if a number seems too good to be true, it probably is. Insist on an in-person estimate, not one done over the phone, and be sure to let the estimator know about any unseen items or things you won’t be moving. If they charge by weight or volume you’ll want that estimate to be as accurate as possible. Scammers lowball estimates only to raise them significantly later in the moving process.
  • Ask if the estimate is binding or non-binding. A binding estimate is a guaranteed price, unless you need extra services, but a non-binding estimate can lead to significant additional costs.
  • You’ll generally pay for the move when your possessions are delivered, so be wary of any mover who wants a large deposit or the whole price – especially in cash – up front. If you have one, use your credit card to pay since it has fraud protections.
  • Make sure you have the right valuation protection or insurance coverage through the moving company or a private insurer. Avoid the Alternate Level of Liability option, which limits your coverage to 60 cents per pound per article. Take photos of valuable items so you have proof they existed and what condition they were in. You might even want to move valuable items such as jewelry or electronics yourself.