How to spot NYC moving scams?

Learn to spot NYC moving scams so you'll save your money.

Moving is never easy, even when you have movers to help you. But it can get even harder if you’re not careful. Moving scams are on the rise and hiring a fraudulent moving company can easily and quickly turn your relocation into your worst nightmare. So how can you avoid that? How can you be sure that you’re hiring legitimate NYC movers for your relocation in New York? Well, the first step is learning how to spot NYC moving scams. If you can spot NYC moving scams, then you can avoid them!

Spot NYC moving scams: what are they and how do they work?

Before you can spot NYC moving scams, you should first know what it is that you’re looking for. There are many different kinds of moving scams. And scammers are getting ever more creative and coming up with new ways to take your money. So familiarize yourself with the most common moving scams! This will make it easier to notice the signs that you may fall victim to one of them.

Fraud warning signs.
Know the moving scams and you’ll see them more easily.

The switcheroo

One of the most common but difficult to spot NYC moving scams is the so-called switcheroo. So how does it work? It starts with your movers giving you a low to average estimate on your move. You agree to it and hire them. But then on moving day, they up the price significantly, something that reliable and trustworthy movers would never do. Your choices are to agree to the new price or end up without movers on moving day. Usually, they’ll say your load was heavier than expected or add fees for some imaginary additional services. It’s pretty straight-forward as far as scams go. But it works surprisingly well, especially on people who don’t have much experience with moving.

The hostage situation

The nest common moving scam is the hostage situation. In this case, everything seems fine right up until about delivery time. With proper residential movers, you’ll simply get your stuff, pay the agreed-upon fee and start settling in. But scammers won’t deliver your stuff. Instead, they’ll hold it hostage until you pay them more than what they originally quoted you. Until you do, you won’t get your stuff back. This is a difficult scam to avoid because it is hard to spot until it is too late.

The exorbitant deposit

The exorbitant deposit is actually one of those few easy to spot NYC moving scams. It’s quite simple, really. Your movers ask for a huge deposit and once you pay it, they simply disappear, not answering the phone or providing any service at all. Again, this is one of those frauds that rely on inexperience and lack of knowledge so the main targets are young people who have never moved before.

How to spot NYC moving scams and avoid them?

Now that you know what some of the most common moving scams in NYC are, you should have a better idea of what to be on the lookout for. But how do you spot a scam before it happens? Is there a way to ensure you don’t hire fraudulent movers in the first place and thus never have to experience the worst of the scam in order to know it’s a scam?

Pen, Magnifying Glass And Document
There are ways to investigate your movers to ensure they’re not a scam.

Check movers’ license and insurance information before you hire them

The first thing you should do when researching movers is to check their license and insurance information. Moving is a pretty regulated business and almost all movers must obtain a license for what they do with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Therefore, if a moving company isn’t on the FMCSA website, there’s a very strong chance they aren’t legitimate.

Of course, in some cases, the name your movers go by isn’t their full legal name and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. If you want to be 100% sure about a company, don’t search the FMCSA website with their name.  Use a USDOT number instead. Can’t find the USDOT number on the movers’ website? Ask for it! If they don’t want to provide it to you, consider that a red flag.

Look for the red flags that can help your spot NYC moving scams

One of the most important things to do when hiring movers is to keep your eyes open for red flags. Even one of these should set off alarms in your head. But if you spot multiple red flags, run like the wind from those movers.

Red flag.
Red flags are there, you just need to know how to see them.

Bad reviews

Bad reviews in the service industry are never a good thing. If previous customers were unhappy with the service, you are likely to be unhappy too. So make sure to read recent reviews for any movers you consider. Don’t just focus on the movers’ website either (they monitor those reviews, after all). Check social media, Yelp, and BBB as well.

Name changes

A moving company that often changes the name it operates under is usually hiding something. If you notice multiple name changes for a single company either on their website or on the FMCSA website, be very careful with those movers.

No in-person estimates

Before you hire movers, you’ll contact them for a moving estimate. Most movers will offer a basic estimate based on nothing more than your own description of the itinerary. Legitimate movers will then also do a more detailed and accurate in-person estimate. Scammers, however, will not. This will be their basis for charging you extra later on because they can then say that your description of the load was inaccurate and incomplete.

Low-ball estimates

You’ve heard the saying that things that seem too good to be true are probably not true. This goes for moving companies as well. If the moving estimate you’re provided with feels too low to be accurate, it probably isn’t accurate anyway. Instead, you’ll probably end up paying much more later due to a scam.

Always read contracts carefully before you sign them

Sometimes you can’t spot NYC moving scams right away. Sometimes they only become obvious later on in the process. So it’s important not to get yourself caught up in a situation where you have no legal standing. In order to avoid that, you should always read all contracts very carefully before you sign them. That means even the fine print! This way you’ll avoid signing something that allows your movers to take more money from you down the road.

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