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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > August 2021 > Don’t Get Scammed When Moving to a New Home

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Don’t Get Scammed When Moving to a New Home

Buyers and sellers and renters, oh my!
Are you planning on moving? While you are packing and planning, beware of scams when choosing a moving service. Some con artists pretend to be movers, even giving quotes and accepting deposits, but never show up for the job.
Other scammers may quote a price based on the weight or volume of what is being moved, but when it comes time for the move it’s a different story. After the items are loaded, the company informs you that the belongings weigh more than the estimate or take up more cubic feet. The scammer then says the load will cost significantly more to move.

A third variation of a moving scam occurs when everything seems to be smooth sailing but your items don’t show up at your new home. The belongings are either lost forever or held hostage until you pay an additional fee.

Before hiring a mover, consumers should research companies through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Be sure to find out how long the moving company has been in business, look for reviews from previous customers and ask for proof that the company is licensed and insured. Do an internet search for the company’s name and words like “scam” and “complaint” to discover more about the company’s reputation and customers’ grievances.
The PUCO has important information about consumers’ rights when hiring movers. For consumers moving across state lines, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates interstate moving companies. Also, you may want to check out the BBB’s June 2020 study of moving scams, which primarily concentrates on state-to-state moves.

Red flags of a moving scam:
  • Watch out if the company doesn’t list an address or provide information about its registration or insurance coverage. Beware of companies that do not give a company name when they answer a phone call or that use rented trucks instead of their own vehicles – those may be signs that the movers are not in business for the long haul.
  • Look out for companies that require a large down payment or payment in full before they provide the moving service. Do not pay cash before services are completed.
  • Be sure to get a written contract from the moving company and read the terms and conditions and any fine print before committing to the service. Be sure the written contract spells out the dates your goods will be picked up and delivered, as well as how the rate is calculated. Save all documentation in case you need to refer to it or provide it if you have questions or concerns.
  • Most movers base their pricing one of two ways: flat-rate or hourly. Some flat-rate quotes may be higher because they may account for the fact the move may take longer than expected. Flat-rate quotes may offer some peace of mind and more certainty. For long-distance moves or larger homes, some experts say a flat-rate may be better for the budget-minded consumer.
  • Some movers may quote an estimate based on the weight of your items or cubic feet. According to the BBB, “Rogue operators prefer to give estimates in cubic feet. Volume is easier to manipulate than weight so they can later claim additional charges.”
  • Get at least three in-person or virtual estimates as part of your research. Scammers may refuse to meet in-person and give low-balled estimates over the phone.
  • Inventory all your items being moved and the number of boxes being transported to your new home. Look for movers that provide full-value protection insurance in case items are lost or damaged. Also, find out what your existing homeowner’s policy will cover.
  • Take photos before and after the move in case you have insurance claims involving broken or damaged items.
While housing markets are booming, one of the negative consumer effects of COVID-19 remains: the threat of foreclosure due to some homeowners’ inability to pay their mortgage. Homeowners need to know that help is available. Their mortgage servicer and HUD-approved housing counseling agencies can provide available resources and options. To contact HUD, call 1-800-569-4287 or click here.
Additionally, landlords and renters may be eligible for federal rent assistance. To find your local program, click here.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.