How to avoid getting scammed during peak moving season

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Unfortunately it's not just all the packing that makes moving so stressful; sometimes you need to worry about moving company scams that might keep your belongings from ever arriving at your new home (or make it crazy pricey to get them there).

Popular cons include the bait and switch (wherein the mover offers up a cheap estimate, then ups the price at the last minute), the “hostage situation” (in which a moving company holds your stuff hostage until you agree to pay more money), and the phantom delivery (wherein a mover loads all your boxes onto a truck and then drives off, never to be heard from again).

Here are some ways to keep from being tricked:

  • Get personal recommendations: Ask friends who’ve moved recently which movers they used. If they had a good experience with a particular company, chances are you will too.
  • Read reviews: Go to Yelp or Angie’s List and read as many reviews as you can—both pro and con. Remember, though, that most people only report on bad experiences, but if any of the reviewers mention scams or any shady operations, steer clear.
  • Check out the website: If it looks professional and lists a physical address and phone number, it’s probably not a fly-by-night operation. If it looks like it was made by a tenth grader, it very well might have been.
  • Get it in writing: Your mover should give you a handwritten estimate, an order for service (an unofficial contract that lists all the services the mover will perform) and a bill of lading (an official contract between you and the movers). A handshake will not suffice.
  • Never give a deposit: Reputable movers don’t ask for deposits—you generally pay upon delivery. So if the company asks you for a large deposit upfront, run, don’t walk, away.

For more, read “3 Moving Scams You Should Know About—And 10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped.”

In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.


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