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The moving process can be expensive between packing, hiring movers, or storing belongings. Unfortunately, con artists attempt to take advantage of movers and defraud them of thousands of dollars and even some of their belongings. If you are planning to move, make sure to do thorough research so that you are not stuck with an even pricier bill.

Scammers may entice consumers planning a move by offering incredibly low prices, but will ask for an upfront deposit. They then take your deposit and disappear, leaving you to find a new company to move your belongings. Others offer a low price upfront and then demand more money throughout the process. They may hold your items for ransom, demanding that you pay them even more money to get them back. In more extreme instances, fake movers may pack your belongings onto their truck and vanish, stealing your items.

To help ensure you are working with a legitimate company and avoid getting scammed:

  • Research multiple companies and read reviews of the companies you are considering. Don’t just rely on the reviews on the moving company website. Read online reviews as well as verified consumer review sites, such as the Better Business Bureau. Check for a website, contact information, a physical location. If none of these exists, be suspicious.
  • Get written estimates from each. Many legitimate moving companies will send a representative to inspect the home in order to provide a fair estimate, especially when moving the entire contents of a single-family home. If a company gives you an estimate without sending a representative to inspect the home in person, ask why.
  • Ask about whether a deposit is required. Many companies do not require a deposit, opting rather to receive payment upon delivery. However, it’s not necessarily a red flag if the company does request one. Watch out for how much is being requested and never pay with cash or wire transfer. Deposit payments made by credit card are the safest way to ensure you can get your money back in the event you’re being scammed.
  • Once you choose a mover, research to verify them. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has a database for all registered interstate movers. You can view complaints, safety information and company contact information for registered movers. In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) monitors moving companies and can help you find a licensed carrier or file a complaint.
  • Have a written contract. Be sure it includes the date, time, and locations where the movers will pick up and deliver your items, as well as costs and any additional charges.
  • Make an inventory of your belongings. In the event that some of your stuff does go missing, you will know exactly what needs to be retrieved or replaced.

As with any other scam, you should report any moving scams you come across to the FTC and file a complaint with the DPU, the Attorney General’s Office and your local police department. Being smart and thorough when it comes to selecting a moving company can save you from the hassle of getting scammed and the financial burdens that come with it. Don’t let a fraudulent company make your move even more expensive.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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