Moving Scams | Moving 101 | Long Distance USA Movers

Avoid All Moving Scams by Knowing What to Look For

Millions of Americans decide to relocate to another state for personal, working, or other reasons. That’s why finding a reputable and trustworthy cross-country moving company is of utmost importance. Especially if you want to avoid moving scams and unnecessary stressful situations.

Mover providing long-distance moving service
Finding a trustworthy professional will be easy if you follow these steps

Do you really know how moving scams work and what to do if the company scams you? Will you be able to recognize fraudulent attempts and find a trustworthy long-distance moving company? No matter your reasons for relocation, if you are relocating for a job or at the last minute, you will want to have reliable workers by your side. There are 7,000 officially registered long-distance movers working in the US, who know how many are working unregistered. This is why it is important to check if the business is legit and to pick the one that will not be deceiving and shady.

What Are Moving Company Scams? How Do You Avoid Moving Scams?

Imagine you’ve just got a quote from the relocation crew, and you accepted it. After some time, they arrive at your house, and all your belongings have been packed into the truck. The workers started to roll, they got in front of your new home, and now they refuse to unload the stuff until they get extra payment for services they never mentioned before. Since it’s against federal law for a relocation crew to withhold anyone’s items, it’s obvious – you’re being scammed.

In order to avoid any of those unpleasant surprises (which can be classified as severe relocation mistakes), make sure to research and compare relocation quotes of a few companies before you schedule the relocation. Also, keep in mind that there are many ways these fraudsters work, so be ready for detailed research on all relocation terms, and don’t forget to check whether those companies are legitimate or not.

Couple getting ready for cross country moving
Compare the quotes and avoid fraudsters

How Online Reviews Can Help You Avoid Moving Scam

The Internet can be more than a useful source for finding needed information and reduce your anxiety about relocation to another state. Online reviews from third-party websites such as Better Business Bureau, Trust Pilot, Yelp, or Google recensions, can help you spot if the business is making some inexcusable mistakes. If their ratings are really poor, read as many reviews as you can and try to spot the pain points of their service and whether the recension is unbiased.

You might find reviews that refer to some bad practices such as surreally low quotes, unexpected costs, damaged goods, or any other problematic situation. You should avoid them and try to find another provider. Finding a hassle-free team of professionals is not an easy task. However, with the right strategy, you can easily stay away from frauds and organize your move seamlessly.

Man searching for a long-distance moving company
Go through reviews and comments people left

Moving Company Scams – Red Flags You Should Be Aware Of

Believe it or not, there is a pattern by which all the scammers function, and here are some essential details that should be red flags for you as a consumer. If you wonder, How do I know if a moving company is legit? The answer is – by checking if the firm has a USDOT number at the FMCSA website. According to federal law, all cross country movers must have this number, and if you can not find your team of choice, you should avoid them.

Companies That Don’t Offer in-Home Estimation Should Be Avoided

The very first contact you’ll make with chosen professionals is through the phone or their websites, which commonly provide users with free online quotes that estimate the approximate cost of relocation. According to federal law, all cross country movers must give you this initial quote online.

After this assessment, professionals should offer to give you an in-home estimation. If the mover refuses to perform an in-house estimation or tells you to pay the deposit on the day of the relocation, or you get lowballed, it’s a bad sign. All this is an unmistakable sign you should run away from the crew cause it undoubtedly has fraudulent intentions.

You can surely expect some hidden charges that were not part of the estimates. Also, some of these fraudulent companies can even promise you some impossible services, like shipping of live plants, which are forbidden by law.

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Avoid Long Distance Moving With a Company That Doesn’t Seem Professional

If you already have booked the service with a cross country moving company that acted as described above, then you can also expect that there won’t be logos on a truck or even working uniforms. Moreover, they will not use any protective supplies, such as any bubble wrap and packing paper, to protect and adequately pack fragile items and other delicate belongings. Neither will they have the proper equipment such as ramps for getting the stuff into the truck, which could potentially damage your items.

Professional packers usually have very detailed packing strategies, which implies they will take care of the tiniest details. Their aim is to help you move efficiently and according to your packing schedule. They will use the best-sized boxes to pack all the stuff. They can deal with your whole household, including packing paintings or instruments, so using their services is the best way to pack for a relocation.

You Don’t Know How Much You Are Paying and For What Services

Another inconvenience will be associated with payment and extra charges. Strange charges, such as additional charging for items over 100 pounds, for example, are incredulous. So the best relocation hack we can give you is to ask all the questions you may have once the professionals are at your home. It is a huge red flag if they avoid some answers or don’t know what to tell you.

And suppose you refuse to pay any extra charges for cross country moving services that are not mentioned in a telephone conversation or in the contract. They might perform something known as items hostage and refuse to unload any of the belongings until they get paid extra. And this is something that is called padding the bill.

Cross country moving truck
Check for logos and other signs they are professional

What to Do if A Moving Company Has Scammed You?

While 40 million Americans relocate annually, there are only four thousand complaints a year. Statistically, this is not such a big number. But, whoever is experiencing such a horrible thing would likely say that a situation in which someone has your belongings and refuses to give them back to you until you pay some outrageous amount of money is pretty unpleasant.

In case you’re experiencing any inconvenience with long-distance movers, you can file the complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a regulatory agency within the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). You can also try complaining to the firm itself, and if this doesn’t bring you any results, you should give the case to an attorney and fight for your rights against moving fraud.

Woman holding a binder
File complaint at FMCSA

How to Find Reputable Long-Distance Movers Near Me? Find Movers From Your City

Finding a reputable and trustworthy long-distance moving company within your area is not difficult if you research all the information in detail. This means consulting Google, online reviews, and experiences and references of other customers, as well as your family and friends for recommendations, especially if they moved recently.

The major benefit of finding professionals near you is that you can go to their office and speak to them face-to-face. This is one of the best possible ways to see if something is wrong and avoid relocation fraud. Some of the details you should inspect are:

  • The condition of the company’s facility,
  • Is there a secured parking lot,
  • Are there parked trucks with firm logos, and
  • What impression do you have while speaking to staff?

Check this video for more relocation tips:

How Professionals Organize the Relocation Process?

Once you’ve contacted them, professional relocation companies will ask you a few questions associated with your destination and the size of your house. Afterward, you will agree on the date of in-house estimation that will give you further insights into the total of relocation expenses you could expect. This way, you will be able to create a very accurate and detailed relocation budget.

Do Movers Charge by Weight or Volume?

Once an in-house estimation is done, professional relocation businesses will provide you with cost estimation that can be binding, unbinding, and not-to-exceed. They will also send you the contract in advance so that you can clearly understand what their service covers, what is included in the price, and what is paid extra.

The price for long-distance moving services is usually determined based on three factors:

After you accept the cost scheme, the usual practice is to settle a 10% deposit in advance to secure the date of your interstate relocation. If firms ask you for a bigger deposit, they are probably scammers, so avoid them if possible. Also, if the movers give you a low bid at a price that is way below the market price, they are fraudsters too. You will probably end up with more to pay in the end.

What Other Details Contract Should Contain?

The contract should also contain a clause defining that extra costs associated with your relocation can not amount to more than 10% of the basic price. Also, how your valuable items are secured (this will be especially important for antiques, canvases, or other pieces of art.) Of course, if you add some extra items that weren’t included in the initial plan, then the firm has the right to charge you more than listed in the estimation.

Another detail to revise is what the insurance policy covers in case of damage and your rights in case of delivery delay. They will also provide you with a booklet of  Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, which is their obligation by law.

You Should Have Insurance

Aside from the fact that every professional long-distance mover will come in uniforms with a company’s logo and all necessary equipment. In case you notice any of these elements are missing, you should seriously consider whether to entrust them with your memories, money, and other possessions. For this reason, all trustworthy businesses must provide you with basic insurance. And if you wish to have extra cover for your belongings, there should be an option for full insurance as well, where you will be fully covered if any damages happen.

Person signing a contract with a long-distance moving company
Make sure your items are covered with insurance

How Do You Trust a Relocation Company?

Now you’ve been introduced to all the rights and responsibilities that mover has, we are sure you’re ready to make the right decision and choose the right professionals to relocate your household. Relocation is complex enough, and the last thing you want is to feel overwhelmed, ripped off, or emotionally drained. Ensure to explore everything you can about the mover, and don’t hesitate to ask for written estimates and contracts in advance, so you can evaluate all the options and make the right decision.

Another question that is a concern of many people is, do movers steal your stuff? The trustworthy crew will not tolerate these situations. They will do everything to prevent them, from choosing the employees to securing their storage facilities with 24/7 video surveillance, guards, and automated systems to record check-in and check out of your goods.

Security cameras
See if their storage units have video surveillance

Should I Make a DIY Move?

If you’re wondering if it is better to move on your own or hire movers because these stories produce additional fear of relocation, don’t forget that there are still dedicated, responsible, and professional companies that provide impeccable service at a reasonable price. Having professional support during the relocation process will certainly make the whole experience much easier and save you from unnecessary stress if you choose the right team. So, when creating your checklist for relocating to a new state, don’t forget to put the task of finding a reliable mover high on your list cause this is the only certain way to stay far from any potential scam.

Kaitlyn Bradley

Born in the US, Kaitlyn Bradley is an expert in all things packing and moving. She loves spending time with her family and writing engaging content.


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