Unkempt mover crams a box into a full truck
Date Published
August 05, 2019

Every year, thousands of people fall prey to “rogue” movers — fraudulent, unlicensed, or unprofessional moving companies that operate using unethical practices. To put it bluntly, they are scam artists.

Understanding how these scam movers operate and spotting unprofessional or questionable behaviors upfront will help protect you from becoming another victim.

The 2 Most Common Moving Scams

Almost every moving scam is a variation or combination of these two common scams:

Price Bait and Switch

An unethical moving company gives you an estimate that seems too good to be true (and it is). The lower number they initially gave you suddenly inflates due to any number of unmentioned fees or “unforeseen” events.

Possessions for Ransom

An unethical moving company loads all of your items onto their truck and then holds them for ransom — refusing to unload them unless you pay a much higher price (usually in cash).

Since almost every scam involves your quoted price versus your actual cost, let’s turn our focus to a crucial part of your moving agreement: your moving quote or estimate.

5 Moving Quotes You Shouldn’t Trust

  1. Volume-based: Estimates are usually based on weight or distance. Volume-based estimates (based on cubic footage of truck space) may be acceptable for local moves, but ask questions about why they aren’t using a different valuation. Volume-based estimates are illegal for long-distance moves unless there is a weight conversion factor.
  2. Over the phone: If a moving company claims they can give you a quote over the phone, be very wary. It is nearly impossible to get an accurate “site unseen” estimate over the phone. (If the phone quote is only used to give you a “ballpark” figure, and a home survey will follow if you proceed, this is acceptable.)
  3. Rushed: If the estimator from the moving company merely does a quick sweep of your home and the items you will be moving, it is cause for concern. While it’s better than a phone quote, giving your possessions a cursory glance is unlikely to yield an accurate estimate.
  4. “Handshake” agreements: Always get everything in writing. We cannot stress this enough. Regardless of what you are quoted, it means nothing unless it was documented. Never let movers load your items onto their truck without having a signed moving contract that details your costs.
  5. Low-ball bid: A quote that seems too good to be true usually is. The final price tag for these cheap moving quotes often includes all sorts of extra, unmentioned fees. And if you don’t end up paying one way you’ll likely pay another — a cheap price buys cheap (low-quality) service.

Suspicious Moving Company Behavior

In addition to unreliable moving estimates, there is certain behavior to watch out for from the company you’re dealing with. If a moving company does any of these things, you should proceed with caution and consider using another company.

  • Request an upfront deposit or card number
  • Provide inconsistent company information
  • Fail to provide you with proper paperwork
  • Attempt to rush you through the process
  • Refuse to answer questions (or answer unclearly)
  • Ask you to sign blank pages in your contract

How to Protect Yourself From Moving Scams

Doing your due diligence goes a long way towards protecting yourself from unscrupulous moving companies. There are several steps you can take to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company.

  • Ask family and friends for references
  • Read company reviews online
  • Explore their website and any social media presence
  • Research the company with reliable sources such as the BBB
  • Confirm their licensing and liability coverage
  • Get a detailed estimate in writing
  • Read, understand, and sign your contract before any work starts
  • Look for a ProMover certification from the American Moving & Storage Association

Work With Certified Movers

AAA Movers is Minneapolis’ trusted moving company and a proud moving partner of the Minnesota Twins. Our team uses highly trained, professional movers that treat you and your items with respect. Contact us today to get an accurate moving quote.