Beware of these things
Red flags for moving scam
If you have any fears or concerns that you are about to be taken for a moving scam, here are some of the things that might raise the alert:
- you can find not one listing for the company and nothing at all about it – whether good or bad;
- although we keep a blacklist of known scammers, the fact that a company has not yet appeared on it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good or can be trusted;
- scammers can operate for years without being detected. By using a cheap disposable phone, for example, the company only needs to change the phone to clear their name and pose as clean as a newborn baby!
- the moving men are not wearing uniform T-shirts with the company logo and telephone number on them. It might mean nothing, of course, other than they’ve simply run out of clean shirts – but it could be the red flag to put you on the alert;
- by the same token, an unmarked truck might just mean that the regular vehicle is currently unavailable, so a rental truck is being used. But it could as easily be worth noting as another red flag;
- stationery can be a giveaway, too. Why doesn’t the contract you’re expected to sign on moving day have the company’s logo on it? Why has the moving man conveniently “forgotten” his business card, or produced an obviously cheap and crudely designed one? Reputable companies, of course, would spend time and money on these small details and their absence should raise a red flag;
- be wary of evasive or incomplete answers to your questions. If you say something like “So, my total for this move is going to come to around $480, plus or minus 10 to 15% or so?” and you are given the answer (however politely): “Yes, 3 guys working about 8 hours will cost you around $480”, be on the alert for that red flag again – he just didn’t answer your question.
What can you do if caught out by scam artists?
However careful you’ve been and however diligently you’ve spotted those red flags above, there’s always the chance that you’ll find out you’ve been caught when the moving van is parked right outside your new home – with all your things still inside it.
Calling the police might make you feel better, but, quite honestly, it’s unlikely to do any more than that. After all, the movers have a contract signed by you, they are not threatening you and they are not disturbing the peace – there’s little the police could do.
Unfortunately, they well prepared to act like a legit moving company and that’s you who get caught by surprise on your moving day.
One thing we do recommend that you do, however, is give the moving men what they’re really after – your hard-earned cash. If you don’t, the chances are that you’ll see the moving van and all your belongings headed off to the storage facility.
That would mean only one thing – another astronomical bill for you to pay. By this stage, all rates are on overtime and the clock’s ticking. The scam artists will have estimated the value of everything you own – furniture, piano, TVs and even your record collection – so they know what you’re worth (that’s why they chose you, of course!). And if you don’t pay the extortionate bill they’ve just presented you, they know they’re still covered by selling off your stuff.
So you have no option but to pay now and take it up later by filing a complaint to the district attorney, together with a copy of your contract and as many photos as you can take of the scammers, their moving truck and any private vehicles they might be using (their “boss”, for example, might turn up in his car at some stage).
Most important of all, just take a minute or two to upload onto our website a copy of your complaint, pictures, and state of what went wrong (and even those things that might have gone right). We’d look forward to publishing your story on our blog.