According to the Better Business Bureau, more than 13,000 moving company complaints are filed every year in the United States and Canada—and the BBB estimates that only 10% of all moving fraud victims even bother reporting the crime! At O’Brien’s Moving and Storage, we are horrified by these numbers and want to help make sure that you stay safe from bad actors, rogue movers, and downright scammers.
If you’re making a move, here’s how to protect yourself and your belongings.
Common Red Flags in Moving Scams
The most lucrative moving scammers succeed because they feel very professional. Learn to look past that veneer of quality, however, and you’ll spot a few key red flags.
Red Flags with the Estimate
Moving scammers frequently offer phone estimates without ever viewing your items and without asking very many questions. The estimated price is usually far lower than fair market value (to attract your business) but will also come with a stipulation that you must pay a large down payment.
Another key indication of a potential scam is when the estimate is based on volume rather than weight. Cost estimates based on weight are more accurate and more enforceable than those based on cubic feet.
Red Flags with the Contract
Many moving scams originate from so-called “moving brokers” who find relocation jobs and then sell them to some other Lehigh Valley moving company. The broker gets a cut but has no stake in the success of your move—and may not even know the movers they’ve contracted.
In your contract, look out for phrases stating that the company will not participate or be involved as “a carrier.” This often means that the company is only a broker.
Red Flags on Moving Day
Although you hope to spot a scammer before moving day arrives, you might not—and even then, it’s better to stop the move right away (wasting some time and money) than to put your belongings at risk. Here are a few moving-day red flags:
- The movers show up in a plain truck with no logo or branding.
- The movers are not uniformed and seem unwilling to state the company they work for.
- The movers show up very late in the day.
- The movers claim that you must pay extra for blankets and other packing materials. (These legally must be included in your estimate.)
- The movers do not confirm the price before loading your goods. (It is illegal for movers to increase the price after loading your goods!)
Once you’ve handed your items over to a scammer, there’s very little you can do. It’s common for scammers to take months to deliver your items and then hold your belongings hostage until you pay more—sometimes up to thousands of dollars beyond your agreed-upon price.
The bottom line? Spotting scammers before you put your items on the truck is the only way to protect yourself.
How to Protect Yourself by Hiring Legitimate Movers
In addition to paying attention to scammers’ red flags, you can ensure that you’re hiring reputable movers by looking for key markers of quality and professionalism.
- The most important thing is to make sure you are using a licensed, legal mover and not just an internet broker.
- Licensed movers in the state of Pennsylvania must have a Public Utility Number (PUC). Be sure to attain your movers’ PUC before signing anything. O’Brien’s PUC is PA-94076.
- Interstate movers (those going across state lines) must have an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) number. O’Brien’s ICC is MC 14735.
- An affiliation with a recognized national van line is a very reliable, third-party indicator of quality. O’Brien’s is proud to be a team of certified Allied movers.
- You can—and should—independently verify your moving company through their van line and professional moving associations.
- You should also take the time to read previous customer reviews on multiple platforms, including HomeAdvisor and the BBB.
At O’Brien’s, we’re proud to be some of the most trusted Lehigh Valley movers with many outstanding awards and affiliations, including:
- Allied Van Lines Interstate Agent
- Allied Agents Association (AAA)
- American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)
- Pennsylvania Moving & Storage Association (PMSA)
- Certified Moving Consultants (CMC)
- Registered International Movers (RIM)
- “Best of HomeAdvisor” Award Winner
- And More!
We strive to be a beacon of responsibility, professionalism, and customer service. Even if you don’t hire our Lehigh Valley moving company, we care about you and want to make sure that you’re safe from unlicensed scammers! Please contact us by phone or online form with any questions you might have or to set up your free moving consultation and cost estimate.