Moving Company Scams To Avoid

Moving Company Scams To Avoid

Moving Company Scams To Avoid

Moving Company Scams To Avoid

A family inspects a moving truck full of belongings in the city.

Relocating one's abode is already a taxing endeavour, and that's without the added tension of falling prey to a dodgy moving firm. We completely understand how disconcerting it can be. There are far too many tales out there about removals turning sour because of unscrupulous companies demanding hefty cash deposits well in advance.

Our article serves as your armour against such distressing scenarios, presenting you with trusted techniques to recognise and elude these dishonest shenanigans. Do carry on reading; this guidance might just be the salve for more than your wallet’s woes.

Key Takeaways

  • Watch out for movers who ask for big cash deposits before the move or give very low first quotes that go up a lot later.
  • If movers hold your things until you pay more, they are doing something illegal and wrong.
  • Check if the moving company has real insurance and papers by looking online or asking them to show proof.
  • Get all costs written down so there's no surprise fee when moving day comes.
  • Talk to friends and family for suggestions on good moving companies, and look at what other people say online about the company's work.

What is a moving company scam?

A stressed couple talking on the phone in a cluttered room.

Moving from one place to another is already hard. It gets even worse when we run into dishonest movers. A moving company scam happens when a business that says it will help you move your things actually plans to take your money or stuff in a tricky way.

These scams can be sneaky. Sometimes, the business might look real at first. They have nice ads and friendly people who talk to you on the phone. But behind this, they are planning to trick you out of more money than you agreed to pay or even hold your items until you pay extra cash.

It's like if someone offered to sell you a bike for £50 but then later told you it was actually going to cost £100—after they've taken the bike apart and won't put it back together unless you pay up.

These bad movers do something similar by giving cheap quotes and then charging more once they have control over your belongings.

We know moving is stressful enough without these scams making it harder, so staying alert is key. We'll stand by each other's side and make sure no one gets fooled by these cheating tricks as we go through our journey together!

Types of Moving Scams

An empty moving truck parked in a dimly lit warehouse.

Overcharging: Some moving companies will give you a low estimate at first, only to dramatically increase the price once your belongings are loaded onto the truck.

Hostage items: This scam involves holding your belongings hostage until you pay an inflated price for their release.

Disappearing movers: Rogue movers may load up your possessions and then disappear with them, leaving you stranded.

Fake credentials: Scammers may use fake licenses and certifications to appear legitimate.

No-show movers: Some shady companies may not show up on the agreed-upon moving day, leaving you in a lurch.


A person reviewing a moving company contract surrounded by moving boxes in a bustling city.

We know overcharging is a big problem with some moving companies. They might give you a low price at first and then add extra fees once they have your stuff. This isn't fair, and we don't like it when companies trick our friends like this.

Sometimes movers say the job was harder than they thought or that your things weigh more than expected. That's how they try to make you pay more. We always tell people to get a binding estimate in writing before the move starts.

This written promise can help stop movers from charging too much later on.

To fight back against overcharging, check what others have said about the mover online and ask them lots of questions about their prices. We also suggest using credit cards for payment since it can be safer if something goes wrong and you need to argue about the charges later.

Hostage items

Storage unit filled with packed boxes and furniture in urban setting.

Scams can hit hard on your wallet, and one nasty trick some movers pull is taking your stuff hostage. They do this by moving your items to their truck and then telling you that you must pay more money to get them back.

This is a really bad move by dishonest companies, and they’re just trying to squeeze out extra cash from you.

It's illegal for these movers to keep your things for over 30 days if you've paid up. So know that if they try it, they're breaking the rules big time. We always tell people: don’t let anyone bully you into paying more than what’s fair or agreed upon in the first place.

If we find ourselves stuck in such a mess, a quick call to consumer protection or even the police might be needed to sort things out and get our belongings back where they belong—with us!

Disappearing movers

An abandoned moving truck in an urban setting at dusk.

We know how tough moving can be, and the last thing you want is for your movers to vanish with all your stuff. Sadly, there are scammers out there who do just that. These bad movers give you a low price to trick you into hiring them.

Then, on moving day or even after they load up your belongings, they disappear without a trace.

If this happens, it's as if your things have been stolen because you can't find where they've gone. These rogue operators mainly work online and seem legit at first glance. But their goal isn't to help you move; it's to take what's yours and run away with it.

Always stay alert and check who you're trusting with your cherished items.

Fake credentials

A stack of official documents and a computer screen in an office setting.

Just as some movers might vanish with your belongings, others try to win your trust with fake credentials. Be wary if a company shows you papers that seem too good to be true – they could be lying about their qualifications.

A common trick is to give out a false U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, which can fool customers into thinking the mover is properly registered.

We can check if these numbers are real by looking them up on official websites like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It's important because only legit companies have valid USDOT numbers, showing they follow rules and standards for moving stuff safely across states.

If their documents don't add up or they provide fake info, steer clear and find someone else who's honest about who they are and what they do. Always double-check any paperwork before saying yes to a moving company so we don’t fall for scams.

No-show movers

A room filled with stacked moving boxes and packing material.

Moving from fake credentials, another trick we need to watch out for is no-show movers. Imagine the big day arrives, you're all packed up but those movers you paid never turn up. They've taken your deposit and left you stranded with boxes everywhere.

Sadly, this type of scam happens more than we think.

We hear stories about people waiting all day for a van that never comes. It's not just annoying—it can ruin your plans and cost you extra money. To keep safe from these scams, always choose moving companies with good reviews and a history of showing up on time.

Make sure they give you everything in writing too.

Keep your own list of what you're moving as well so if something goes wrong, you know exactly what was supposed to be moved. And remember not to pay a big deposit before the move; it's better to pay once they’ve done the job.

Red Flags to Look Out For

An empty moving truck with a shady company logo parked in a dimly lit alley.

Be wary of moving companies that only provide estimates over the phone, require a deposit before the move, or give suspiciously low bids. Always ensure you have all the necessary information about your rights and responsibilities as a customer.

Phone estimates only

A moving company employee on the phone against a white wall.

We need to be careful with movers who only give estimates over the phone. This can often mean they are not serious about their business. They might not come to look at what we have and guess a price without seeing anything.

That's not good because the real cost could be a lot more than what they say on the phone.

It's also worrisome if they don't answer calls with their exact company name. Imagine calling and just hearing "movers" or "moving company." That doesn't sound right, does it? It should make us wonder if they're hiding something or not really an official business at all.

We should always check for these hints that someone might not be telling the truth.

Required deposit

A person signing a contract with a moving company at their doorstep.

Moving companies that require a large cash deposit before the move raise a major red flag. Legitimate moving companies usually ask for payment upon delivery or a reasonable upfront deposit, which is standard practice in the industry.

Requiring an unusually large upfront deposit is often associated with potential moving scams, and customers should be cautious of such demands.

Be wary of any company asking for a substantial payment in advance as this is not how reputable movers operate. Always ensure that you are comfortable with the terms and conditions set by the company before proceeding with any payments or signing contracts.

Suspicious bids/costs

When considering a moving company, be cautious of suspicious bids or costs. Some scammers may provide unusually low estimates to entice customers, only to inflate the costs later. This tactic is frequently used to lure in unsuspecting customers and then hold their belongings hostage until they pay the higher price.

It's essential to thoroughly research and compare multiple quotes before settling on a moving company to avoid falling victim to such deceitful practices.

Always question any significantly low offers as it could signal an attempt to scam you. Shady movers may also demand substantial deposits upfront, which should raise immediate concerns about their legitimacy.

Lack of information about rights and responsibilities

When dealing with moving companies, lack of information about your rights and responsibilities can leave you vulnerable to potential scams. It's important for consumers to educate themselves about what they are entitled to when hiring a moving company and what obligations the company has towards them.

Without this crucial knowledge, individuals may find it difficult to identify shady practices or take appropriate action if something goes wrong.

Consumers are urged to become familiar with red flag indicators of moving fraud and review a moving fraud prevention checklist before choosing a moving company. Additionally, consumers are encouraged to educate themselves about their rights and responsibilities when moving to avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities by unscrupulous movers.

Frequent name changes

Some moving companies change their names often to avoid bad ratings with the Better Business Bureau or to evade licensure with FMCSA. This way, they can continue scamming people without leaving a paper trail of dissatisfied customers.

It's essential to be cautious and do a quick Google search or check the Better Business Bureau website for any red flags related to frequent name changes by a moving company.

This hallmark of moving company scams underscores the importance of being vigilant when choosing a mover. Look out for a moving company that operates under multiple different names or changes its name constantly, as this could indicate potential fraudulent activities.

How to Protect Yourself from Moving Scams

A couple inspecting moving company documents surrounded by boxes in a city.

Research the company before hiring them, get written estimates, check for insurance and registration, and read reviews to protect yourself from moving scams. Asking for recommendations from friends and family can also help you find a reputable moving company.

Research the company

When choosing a moving company, we always research the company thoroughly. We look for local addresses, registration and insurance information on their website. Positive customer reviews and a history of on-time deliveries are also important signs of a reputable moving company.

We can check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and read customer reviews to assess the company's reputation. It's crucial to get written estimates from multiple companies and ask for references from friends and family.

By doing our due diligence, we can avoid falling victim to fraudulent movers or moving scams that could result in financial loss and added stress during an already challenging time.

Get written estimates

When looking for a moving company, it's important to get written estimates from multiple companies. Requesting a binding estimate in writing can help avoid falling victim to moving scams.

Keeping your own inventory of belongings and getting everything in writing can also protect against moving scams.

It's crucial to research each company thoroughly and ensure they provide written estimates that detail all costs involved in the move. This will help you make an informed decision while protecting yourself from potential fraudulent activities by unreliable movers.

Check for insurance and registration

When hiring a moving company, it's essential to check for insurance and registration. Look for a local address on the company's website and verify their licensing and insurance information.

If the movers do not provide these details, it could be a red flag for potential scam.

Ensuring that the moving company is registered and properly insured will help protect you from fraudulent activities. By verifying their credentials, you can have peace of mind knowing that your belongings are in safe hands during the relocation process.

Read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family

We always check reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations when choosing a moving company. It's important to hear about others' experiences. We can get insights into the service quality, reliability, and trustworthiness of the moving companies through these personal recommendations and online reviews.

By doing this, we can avoid falling victim to potential scams.

It's helpful to know that seeking advice from people in our circle can provide us with valuable information about reputable moving companies. Reviews also offer a glimpse into other customers' encounters with different movers, which guides us in making an informed decision.

Do Moving Companies Provide Packing Services? (Insert internal link here)

A neatly packed moving box surrounded by packing materials in a busy home.

Yes, moving companies do offer packing services as part of their comprehensive range of services. They can assist with carefully and securely packing belongings, providing the necessary materials and expertise to ensure items are protected during transit.

The moving company's professional packers are trained to efficiently handle different types of items, ensuring they are appropriately packed for safe transport. This service can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may not have the time or physical ability to complete the packing themselves.

Moving companies usually offer a variety of options when it comes to packing services. These might include full-service packing where the movers pack everything in your home, partial packing where they only tackle specific items or rooms at your request, or self-packing where you take care of most things yourself but require some assistance with certain fragile or challenging-to-pack items.

It's essential to discuss your specific needs with the moving company to determine which option is best suited for your requirements and budget.

What to Do if You Get Scammed by a Moving Company

A person consulting with a lawyer in a busy office.

If you find yourself a victim of a moving company scam, it's important to file a complaint with the relevant authorities and report the incident. You can also seek legal assistance and contact consumer protection agencies to help resolve the situation.

How to file a complaint

If scammed by a moving company, it's vital to file a complaint. We can contact consumer protection agencies or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) National Consumer Complaint Database.

Doing so helps hold the company accountable and prevents others from falling victim to similar scams.

To file a complaint against a household goods moving company, broker, or carrier, connect with FMCSA's National Consumer Complaint Database. This step allows us to report any fraudulent activity and contribute to protecting other consumers from experiencing the same issues.

When to report a moving company scam

If scammed by a moving company, it's crucial to report the incident promptly. Check for any theft or loss, delayed delivery, or dishonest practices. Consumers can file grievances against household goods movers or brokers through FMCSA's National Consumer Complaint Database.

Be vigilant for red flags such as overcharging, disappearing movers, and fake credentials to avoid being taken advantage of.

In case of experiencing dubious practices like missing items or inflated charges beyond the estimates, consider filing a complaint immediately. The sooner you take action and report any suspected scams in your move, the better protected you are under consumer rights and regulations.

Tips for Choosing a Quality Moving Company

A photo of packed boxes and moving supplies in an empty house.

When choosing a quality moving company, it's important to get a written estimate, research the company's reputation, and do your homework. Look for companies with positive reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family.

Get a written estimate

When hiring a moving company, it's crucial to get a written estimate that clearly outlines the services and costs involved. This provides transparency and helps prevent any surprises or hidden fees on moving day.

By having everything in writing, including the final price, you can protect yourself from potential scams and ensure that both parties are clear on the terms of the agreement.

Obtaining a written estimate also allows you to compare quotes from different moving companies effectively. You can use this information to make an informed decision about which company offers the best value for your specific needs.

Research the company's reputation

When researching a moving company's reputation, it's crucial to look beyond their own website and promotional materials. Utilise platforms like Yelp, Trustpilot, and Google Reviews to gain insights from real customers.

Additionally, checking the complaint history on consumer affairs websites can highlight any red flags or patterns of dissatisfaction. Genuine reviews and feedback from previous customers can provide valuable information about the company's reliability and service quality.

Before choosing a moving company, it is essential to do thorough research about their reputation. Analysing online reviews and complaints history along with asking for references helps in making an informed decision.

Do your homework

Before entrusting a moving company with your belongings, it is crucial to do your homework diligently. Research and compare reputable and long-standing moving companies to understand the legitimate cost of your move.

Look for mover associations and certifications that prove the company is legitimate, ensuring you avoid falling for scammer moving companies. Check the licensing and insurance of moving companies and create a shortlist of movers while comparing their services and prices.

By doing so, you can protect yourself from unscrupulous movers who might try to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.

It's essential to be proactive in gathering information about potential movers, such as reading reviews, asking for recommendations from friends and family, and checking their track record with previous customers.

Moving Company Scams FAQ

A moving company employee presents a written estimate to a customer.

Moving Company Scams FAQ

Moving company scams can be a concern, so it's smart to know what to watch for. Our top tip is: Always research the moving company before hiring them. Also, consider getting written estimates and checking for insurance and registration.

If you've been scammed by a moving company, filing a complaint with your state attorney general's office or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can be helpful.

Remember that there are ways to protect yourself from moving scams like reading reviews and asking for recommendations from friends and family. It’s essential to look out for red flags such as phone estimates only or required deposits.

Scammers often find reasons to charge extra fees beyond the initial agreement, leading to unfair costs. So always get everything in writing! Additionally, poor quality websites with vague information should raise suspicion on the legitimacy of the mover.

Avoiding Hidden Fees and Extra Charges

A family unpacking in a new home with moving company staff.

When choosing a moving company, it's important to be aware of hidden fees and extra charges that could potentially arise. By being informed about the potential pitfalls, you can take proactive steps to avoid falling victim to these scams.

For more information on how to avoid hidden fees and extra charges when hiring a moving company, read our blog on the topic.

Over the phone estimates

When getting estimates over the phone, it's essential to proceed with caution. Reputable moving companies usually provide detailed written estimates that include all costs associated with the move.

Paying attention to red flags such as over-the-phone estimates only, and requiring a deposit can help avoid potential scams. It is better to opt for in-house estimates to prevent any surprises or additional fees from the moving company.

Checking for insurance and registration is also crucial when dealing with over-the-phone estimates.

Bait and switch tactics

Moving companies may use bait and switch tactics to deceive customers. This scam involves initially offering a low estimate for moving services, only to later increase the charges or change the terms of the agreement.

It's important to be cautious of unusually low estimates, as they could be an indicator of potential bait and switch tactics.

Consumers should be wary if a moving company suddenly changes the terms of their agreement or increases costs significantly after providing an initial estimate. These tactics are often considered fraudulent and illegal, and it's crucial for individuals to thoroughly research and vet moving companies before committing to their services.

Required deposits

When hiring a moving company, be cautious if they ask for a large deposit upfront. Reputable companies usually require payment upon delivery of your belongings. Avoid those asking for substantial pre-payments, as it could indicate fraudulent intentions.

Also, remember that by not paying a hefty deposit, you protect yourself from potential scams. Legitimate companies will present clear terms about fees and payments without pressuring you to make significant deposits before the move.

Suspicious bids

When considering a moving company, it's crucial to be cautious of suspiciously low bids. These bids may seem appealing, but they could indicate a potential scam. Legitimate movers have costs that need to be covered, so unusually low bids should raise a red flag.

It's essential to do thorough research and get multiple estimates to ensure you're not falling for an unrealistically low bid that might lead to unexpected additional charges later on.

Shady movers may use suspiciously low bids as a tactic to lure in customers and then hike up the prices with hidden fees or subpar services. By being aware of these tactics and understanding the true cost of quality moving services, you can protect yourself from falling victim to such scams.

Late or non-delivery of belongings

Sometimes, despite all precautions and research, the worst can happen when dealing with a moving company. This may include late or non-delivery of belongings which can be distressing for anyone in the process of relocating.

It’s important to note that moving company scams often lead to this issue, leaving individuals without their possessions at their new destination. In such instances, victims are left feeling helpless and anxious due to the potential loss of their cherished items.

It is crucial for individuals preparing to move to be aware of this risk and take necessary measures to avoid falling victim to such scams by researching thoroughly and ensuring they choose a reputable moving company with a proven track record in safe and timely deliveries.

Reckless abandonment

Reckless abandonment in the moving industry is when a company takes payment upfront and then disappears, leaving customers' belongings behind. This fraudulent practice puts customers in a distressing situation.

To avoid falling victim to reckless abandonment, it's crucial to thoroughly research moving companies before hiring them. Be cautious of companies asking for large upfront payments or offering significantly lower prices than their competitors.

Carefully review the terms and conditions of the moving contract to ensure there are no hidden fees or extra charges that could lead to reckless abandonment. Prioritise thorough vetting, as this can protect you from potential scams, ensuring your belongings are in safe hands throughout the move.

By being vigilant about these warning signs, you can safeguard yourself from unscrupulous movers who engage in reckless abandonment.


A family discussing moving plans in a cozy living room.

In conclusion, moving company scams can be costly and distressing. By thoroughly researching before hiring a remover and obtaining written estimates, you can protect yourself from potential scams.

Being vigilant about red flags such as large deposits and lack of company information is crucial for a smooth move. Emphasising practicality and efficiency, these strategies are simple to implement yet impactful in ensuring a successful move.

Remember to keep your own inventory of belongings and seek recommendations from trusted sources when choosing a moving company. With the right precautions, you can avoid falling victim to moving scams and ensure a stress-free relocation experience.


1. How can I tell if a moving company estimate is a scam?

A moving company might be trying to scam you if the estimate is not based on weight for an interstate move or if they ask for a big credit card payment before the move.

2. Should I get an inventory list from my moving company?

Yes, always get an inventory list from your moving company. This shows everything they will move and helps avoid scams.

3. Do I need moving insurance when using a removal firm?

Yes, getting moving insurance means that if something goes wrong, like damage or loss during the move, the insurance company may help with costs.

4. What should I do if something goes wrong with my move?

If there's trouble like lost items or overcharging, first talk to your removals firm. If that doesn't help, it might be time to reach out to organisations like American Trucking Associations and maybe make an insurance claim or police report.

5. Are there any extra charges in moving contracts I should watch out for?

Watch out for extra fees not mentioned in your main contract such as surcharge costs which could be added later – read every bit of your contract carefully!