Moving scams are frequent but not inevitable. Understandably, people can get skeptical when relocating for the first time or even abroad because a lot is on the line. Spending all your hard-earned money on a business that’ll end up tricking you is awful, but there are ways to avoid moving company scams. Here’s how.
Before you start learning how to live abroad, check the rules and regulations of your destination country regarding travel during covid, especially relocation. International movers typically have overseas partners called Destination Agents. They coordinate relocations on the other side. Maybe they have information on properly relocating – and if you don’t find a Destination Agent, you may be onto a scam.
How Do You Avoid Moving Scams?
The best and only way to avoid relocation fraud is by doing due diligence on every business you consider hiring. We shouldn’t have to tell you how to move overseas if you’ve already done the research, but we can help you relocate efficiently by providing tips on recognizing a swindler in disguise.
You can research companies in various ways, from checking their reviews online, paying attention to their actions and words while you’re in contact, and verifying their USDOT number and registration.
Next to these pretty common sense ways, if you think of yourself as an intuitive person or frequently can tell when things are wrong, following that part of the process should also be considered. If a mover’s looking you in the eyes and you can Sherlock Holmes your way into figuring out they’re lying, don’t overlook that.
What Can You Do if You Get Scammed by a Mover?
Sometimes people learn they’ve been scammed the hard way, typically on relocation day or immediately after. Unfortunately, no relocation checklist can get you your money and belongings back, but some receipts, paperwork, and proof of contract could. All you must do is have these things.
Documentation is the first step in coming into any deal with a legitimate firm. If they don’t sign liability or offer a contract in which both your duties are listed, you may be getting ripped off. Paperwork is annoying, we know, but it keeps capitalism running.
How Do I Know if a Moving Company Is Legit? The Most Common Signs of a Scam
How do moving scams work? Most of the time, scammer companies aren’t some villainous money-stealing organizations. Sometimes the workers decide to go rogue and take cash in their pockets, which never ends well.
Other times, an individual sets up a business front, creates a half-credible website for their company, and starts swindling desperate and unexpecting people that want to move to a new home.
Here’s a quick tip on recognizing if someone plans to scam you – tell them you want to pack jewelry for moving overseas. If they agree to transport it with their vehicles, they’re likely scammers. Legitimate movers have lists of goods that should never be packed in relocation trucks, and jewelry is on each.
Because jewelry is valuable and personal, movers avoid handling it in case it gets misplaced. Taking responsibility for expensive goods is not on any movers’ list. If you need more, the following three signs are pretty solid proof.
#1 Moving Companies That Offer Very Low Quotes
Everyone wants to relocate on a low budget since it’s a lengthy and expensive process. However, if you find a business willing to accommodate your budget without asking what you have or want to transport, that’s not good. Legitimate movers provide price estimates shortly after you contact them.
International relocation service costs are based on the number of things a customer has. Before the move, you’re meant to deliver a household inventory list, by which the movers assess the volume of packing services necessary. Any mover who accepts your money without making an assessment first will likely try to take more later or suddenly hike the price.
In addition to jewelry, a legit relocation business won’t take your documents for traveling abroad. That’s another personal item no one wants to handle, and if you add personal belongings to a relocation truck, they may ask for higher compensation. Beware of the so-called hidden and extra fees – they’re not a thing with real movers.
#2 Asking for High Deposits or Payments in Advance
If the business agrees to help you move but asks for a bid, deposit, or full payment in advance, that’s no good. Some legit movers will ask for deposits but no higher than 10% of the total price. However, most of them will only accept payments after the move is completed, usually as soon as they unload the truck.
Additionally, suppose a business agrees to move you but asks for a bonus for relocating during the holidays or charges extra fees for relocating with pets. In that case, they’re most likely not the real deal. The costs should only be based on a household inventory list and other services you choose (for example, custom crating, car shipping, full coverage insurance, storage service, and alike).
#3 Having Very Few (or Only Positive) Reviews of Their Services
A company’s reputation is built on customers’ happiness. If people aren’t satisfied with a service, they won’t fear to say it, both online and in-person, openly. That’s why, before shipping overseas, you should check out their site and see what kind of reviews their customers left.
Typically, a business can manage reviews but removing a complaint only to keep the praises signifies they’re hiding something. If they allow clients to express their dissatisfaction, too, they have better chances of improving – a real business won’t waiver because of a couple of negative comments.
If you also keep in touch with friends that have recently moved out, check who they used and ask for recommendations. This would be the safest and most effective way of choosing a legitimate business to help you move out and move forward.
The video below gives a short explanation of recognizing scammer websites and comments. Knowing the difference between real and fake comments might help you in many other fields besides relocating.
Verifying a Moving Fraud and a Company’s Legitimacy Can Be Done via FMCSA
People may not be familiar with this, but there is a shortcut to checking the legitimacy of any business that has motor carriers (transportation businesses, mostly).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more known as FMCSA, is an organization where companies that use vehicles for operating, including those that help people relocate across the world, have to register their business.
If they don’t register at the FMCSA, they violate federal regulations and can ultimately fall under the scammer category. To avoid making any significant relocation mistakes, you can visit the FMCSA site and find a company’s USDOT number.
You can also find a business by entering its name, registered address, and MC number. These things should be available on the movers’ website. If their operating status says “ACTIVE,” the business is verified.
You Can Also Check the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for Registered Companies in the City and Country
Another federal organization that oversees businesses traveling across the ocean is the Federal Maritime Commission or FMC. Relocation businesses that ship cargo via sea need to be registered and packed with licenses approved by the FMC.
You can move to another country after you check the FMC’s website and ensure the business you’re currently dealing with is suitable for you. They even have a page with advice on protecting your international move that you can use to your advantage.
Communication Problems Should Also Be a Red Flag
In case you try to verify a company’s USDOT or FMC numbers and can’t seem to find them, you can always ask the mover in charge to give you more information about the business. Communication between you and them is essential because it’s the only way for you to get the relocation experience you wanted and for them to get paid and stay credible.
In case someone doesn’t want to reveal data that must be publicly available, it’s time to turn on the red flag engines and do more research. After all, due diligence is a vital part of relocation day preparations.
If scammers see someone moving abroad alone, they’ll jump at the opportunity to make promises that cannot be fulfilled. Dishonest and deceitful communication is not the right way to cooperate. You can tell they’re dishonest if their answer changes every time you ask the same question.
Here are some other communication red flags in a business:
- They don’t answer the phone promptly,
- Not answering the phone by saying the business’s name first,
- They tell you different things every time you speak,
- The operator and the crew don’t have the same information about your move,
- The workers don’t drive a vehicle with the firm’s markings,
- The address isn’t precise, or they have multiple in the same town.
Hiring a Legitimate Overseas Moving Company Will Be Effortless
An honest international moving company will not be a hassle to book, which is essential. Real businesses never try to divert customers’ attention away from their work. From beginning to end, the communication and cooperation between you and the mover must be effortless if you want to live in a new home.
Additionally, a real overseas shipping company can actually help you save money when moving internationally, as most offer various benefits and options that allow you to combine budget with preference. Do you want to ship a car overseas? No problem. Need custom crating? Consider it sorted.
These services, plus storage and insurance, are all the benefits an overseas shipping firm should provide. Their prices won’t be too low or too high, they’ll give cost estimates for every service, and once you get in touch with them, you will know they’re the right business for your needs.
If You Feel Something’s Wrong, Listen to That Feeling, and You May Just Avoid a Moving Scam
Finally, while staying in touch with a relocation firm, you shouldn’t be questioning your reasons to move. Some people find the relocation stress too overwhelming and feel forced to give up their new home, which could happen when dealing with a business that doesn’t have its things in order.
You don’t want to (and shouldn’t) leave your belongings with someone that’ll treat them as second-hand goods and bully you into paying for everything they think of. The final and essential tip is to follow your gut. If it seems or sounds wrong, it likely is.
Don’t take advantage of this to dissect businesses that don’t deserve it – use it wisely. Your decisions should be based on your intuition, not your paranoia. We know you’ll make the right choice.