Moving can be more stressful than getting a divorce, according to six out of 10 people in a recently conducted study by British energy company E.ON.
First, you have to hunt for a place to live, likely right after you’ve finally settled into your old place. Then you have to find new hairdressers, dry cleaners, coffee shops and gyms to create a new errand routine in your new neighborhood. Then you have to actually — and here’s the really hard part — physically move. Go through your stuff, stare at the piles you’ve accumulated, stuff it into boxes, find a place for everything in your new place — the task is so overwhelming it seems almost impossible.
Unless you have huge biceps and endless stamina, with a bunch of similar sized friends who don’t mind spending their Sunday schlepping your stuff, you’ll likely need to hire movers. But movers present a new challenge in themselves because there are so many scams. Ideally, you call a mover, get a quote, they show up, neatly and quickly put boxes in their truck, and then drive it to your new place and remove the boxes.
Unfortunately, bad boys exist who will hold your stuff hostage.
Here are two popular moving company scams and how to spot them.
Beware of Moving Brokers
One popular scam can occur when you hire a moving broker, which are especially popular all across the world. You could be moving from provinces in Canada, for example, someone offloading Calgary homes for sale and moving to the Edmonton real estate market, or someone moving from Chicago to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Moving brokers can often be found online and have sophisticated websites, but they don’t actually own any trucks or have any employees. Instead they subcontract the jobs to real moving companies who bid on the work. That means you have no control over what actual company you are getting to move your stuff.
These brokers are popular because they offer low quotes, but those can come at a high price; moving brokers who participate in the scam intentionally offer low prices, ask for a deposit, pick up your stuff and then refuse to deliver it until you pay an exorbitant fee.
The Bait and Switch
Another common scam is a single group of individuals who create a bunch of fake moving company websites, complete with fake reviews. They appear to be legitimate, but then increase the price of the move after they’ve loaded all the goods into their truck. If the customer refuses to pay, they can steal all their furniture and boxes.
How to Protect Yourself from Moving Scams
Scary stuff! So how can you protect yourself from these scams?
One tip is to be very wary of extremely low fees. They’re likely only low in order to capture your business before orchestrating the bait and switch.
It’s also worthwhile to stick to trusted recommendations from friends and family; online reviews cannot be trusted anymore.
As well, check any complaints at the Better Business Bureau before signing any deposit and do some research, like checking Google Maps Street View, for the company address.
Does it look like place can hold trucks? If not, it may just be a cover.
Although there are a ton of red flags to be on the look out for, these are just a few examples to get you started with your research.