How to Avoid 7 Most Common Moving Scams

Relocation is tricky enough, even without the chaos that hiring the wrong movers in Bay Area can bring you. Unfortunately, we all know that moving scams aren’t that rare, and there are many so-called businesses out there that rely on poorly informed customers who give them their money. You surely don’t want to learn the hard way what a moving fraud looks like, so make sure you keep reading to learn all about the most common moving company scams.

We gathered all the information you should have when choosing between numerous local movers in Bay Area, so you can learn to recognize a moving scam in no time. Once you figure out how scammers bait customers, you’ll have no trouble finding a reputable, legit business that will help you relocate without any difficulties.

How Do You Avoid Moving Scams?

The critical thing you need to know before residential relocation is this – you should always do thorough research before you hire any movers in San Francisco. The more information you have, the lesser are chances you could be scammed. How do moving scams work? These fraudulent individuals prey on your lack of knowledge about the relocation industry and standard business practices. Of course, you’ll be under plenty of relocation stress in the period leading up to your move, so there is always a possibility of overlooking some red flags, especially if you have to pack to move in a hurry. This is why we suggest that one of the tasks on your to-do list should be checking out all the companies you consider hiring. It’s one of the most important things to do before relocating.

How Do I Know if a Moving Company Is Legit? Here Are Our Best Tips

If you know what to look for, there are always a few clues to get you the information you need to decide if the companies are legit. Starting from the websites to the lack of contact with customers, we will show you how to recognize these common tricks and get to your new home without any financial losses. Keep reading to find out how to avoid hiring a fraudulent mover. Once you’ve figured out the basics, you’ll feel more relaxed and maybe even ready to plan your weekend getaway from San Francisco as a reward for a successful move.

Person typing on the laptop, researching moving scams, notebooks left from the laptop
Doing proper research is the best way to reveal fraudulent businesses

#1 Lack of a Professional Website Is a Huge Red Flag

These days, if your business doesn’t have a professional, well-maintained website, it’s as if you don’t exist. If you run into a relocation business that doesn’t have one – well, they most certainly don’t exist, and they are a fraud. Where can you find essential information about their work if not on their website? If you decide to move with them, your expenses checklist will be way longer than you anticipated since they will rob you of your hard-earned money and leave you broke and furious, even if you’ve just moved to one of the best places in the Bay Area.

Companies Without a License Should Never Be Trusted

Even those businesses with fancy websites can be fake. But, what sets apart a legit website and a phony one? Frauds don’t have a valid license to provide this type of work. Here’s what you need to check out before you hire anyone:

  • A valid US DOT number – This is something you can’t fake, so it’s a great way to spot frauds. Every legit relocation business should have a DOT number, and you can usually find it at the bottom of the page on their website.
  • FMCSA license – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database contains all the licenses, so be sure to check out if FMCSA has the business registered before you trust them with your money and goods.
Woman and a man looking at the laptop screen, researching Bay Area movers
Make sure you check if the relocation business has a valid license before you hire them

#2 If They Have No Reviews of Their Services, Hiring Them Is Not a Good Idea

Naturally, you should read a couple (or a couple hundred, more likely) reviews for any relocation service before you decide it is worth your money. Comparing other people’s experiences with a business you’re interested in is one of the ultimate relocation hacks, and there’s no way your move will be pleasant if you skip this essential step. If they can’t provide you with references, you shouldn’t trust them with your household goods.

Reviews That Sound Too Good to Be True Are Also Suspicious

Those who know how to move efficiently will surely tell you that plenty of outstanding reviews, which sound too good to be true, are also a red flag as they are most likely fake. Anybody can write a couple of fake stories on their site about a kind mover and his team who did the job perfectly, and for a small price. This is why you need to make sure to double-check everything. You can do this by going to some reliable sites such as Yelp and searching for those excellent reviews. Of course, if they’re not based on true stories, you won’t find them there.

Movers in Bay Area loading boxes onto the truck
Any legit business will have genuine reviews about their service on reliable sites

#3 A Company That Changes Its Name Often? You Better Avoid Them

This is a common technique that scammers like to use. If their scam has been exposed and they have many negative reviews online, they will simply change their name and delete all that ugly past. Those who aren’t careful enough will fall for this simple trick, but you won’t be one of them. You now know how important it is to do your homework, so you will easily spot if there’s no reliable info on the relocation business. No history about them online can mean that they’ve recently changed their name, so they can continue scamming people around various Bay Area towns.

How to Check if the Company Changed Their Name Recently?

If you suspect the name change, ask them to provide you with a copy of their business license – different names on the license and a website will tell you everything you need to know, and you will run away from them as quickly as you can. This little trick is way more important to know than how to pack fragile items – the latter won’t get you into significant financial trouble. Learning from mistakes others have made is also an efficient way to learn, so if you want to know what a relocation scam looks like from experience, check out the video below.

#4 A Common Sign for Suspicion Is Giving a Quote Without Asking for a Detailed Inventory List or Household Inspection

This should be an immediate alarm that something’s not right. They have no way of knowing anything about your household inventory after a quick phone call. Giving estimates over the phone means they aren’t interested in the number of items you have for transportation and that they are up to something. Of course, since we’re in the pandemic, it’s acceptable if the agents offer to have a video call so they can take a look and give the price based on the inspection. A trustworthy Bay Area moving company will always help their customers curate a detailed list of their household inventory, and then based on that calculate the estimated price.

Reputable Companies Will Always Pay Attention to Details in Your Home Before Providing With Estimates

Even if they agree to schedule an inspection, that’s not a reason to lower your guard. Keep your eyes wide open, and you may see that they are not particularly interested in details. Having a glance isn’t enough, and it is a sign of unprofessional work. Most reputable Bay Area moving companies will ask for a detailed inventory list before sending you an estimate. If they count items movers won’t move as those that you want to move, they won’t be of any use for your move. That’s not someone you want to entrust your goods to.

Mover from bay Area moving company in front of boxes checking off the item on the checklist
Inspections are essential for giving out estimates, don’t trust anyone who refuses them

#5 If the Company Has an Unrealistically Low Quote and Asks for Money Upfront, They Are a Scam

There’s no legit service that is unrealistically cheap. If you run into someone offering to do your move for a ridiculously low cost, that means they’re about to trick you. It’s called the low-ball bid. They will add various hidden fees or made-up prices for a service they didn’t do to your bill or even hold your belongings until you agree to pay them what they ask for. You’ll agree that it’s no use knowing how to pack books if your books end up being held hostage by some crazy frauds, right? This is why it’s more important to learn how to spot fakes than to research how to pack dishes or furniture.

Never Agree to Pay Before the Move

Requesting payment upfront is another common trait of scammers. It’s the oldest trick in the book – they get your money, and you never see them again. No one with a decent reputation would ask you to pay them before the move is over. Based on everything you’ve heard so far about scammers, we assume there’s no need to emphasize that you should run away from these individuals, right?

A person holding a credit card to pay a moving company in Bay Area, typing on the laptop
Under no circumstances should you pay for the move upfront

#6 Lack of a Contract Is a Sure Reason to Run Away as Fast as You Can

You should never trust someone with your goods without a valid contract that elaborates on the upcoming move’s details. Their words don’t mean anything if you don’t have them in the written form and they have no legal responsibilities if you don’t have a contract. Be sure to ask them if they need your info – they do, if they want to do everything by the law. This is even more important if you want them to take care of valuable items, like move a piano or relocate your office (don’t forget that the large part of that consists of packing electronics!)

Read the Contract Twice Before Signing It

Well, this doesn’t only apply to relocation – if you use your common sense, you will read any contract twice before you sign it. Better safe than sorry, right? Once you’ve carefully read even the tiniest letters and you are confident that everything is legit, you can sign it. Now, it’s time to do something more fun – why don’t you research the best places for a staycation in San Francisco? You surely deserve to relax after this demanding process, and maybe a going-away party.

Man and woman signing a contract with the Bay Area moving company
Never sign anything you haven’t carefully read

#7 If the Company Isn’t Open to Communicating With Customers, They Aren’t to Be Trusted

If someone has nothing to hide, they will be upfront with you. Usually, fraudulent businesses are not open for communication, and that’s what should alarm you. If they can’t answer a few basic questions, like whether they charge by weight or volume, or they seem suspicious to you in any way, it’s better not to trust them with your move. Reputable relocation businesses do their best to make you feel at ease and turn the stressful relocation into a pleasant experience. If you’re not comfortable, you should trust your gut and back off from the deal.

If Workers Seem Like They Can’t Do Basic Services, Cancel the Move

It’s finally relocation day, and you haven’t noticed any red flags so far. Should you relax? Not just yet – pay attention to the relocation crew. Do they all wear uniforms? Do they seem like they can pack furniture properly? Do they seem like they know what they’re doing? Can they professionally move large items? If not, this is your final chance to cancel the move.

Two local movers in Bay Area carrying a couch
Does the relocation crew seem legit to you? If something alarms you, trust your instincts

What to Do If You Have Been Scammed by a Moving Company?

If you end up being a victim of fraud, you can still do a few things to fight back. The first step would be filing a complaint with the relocation business. In cases of misunderstanding, the issue can be resolved this way, but if you’re dealing with actual scammers, you might have to take things further. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or Better Business Bureau are some places you can complain to, and a lawsuit is always an option. If you want to spare others the horrible experience you’ve been through, take your story to social media – that will quickly and efficiently expose scammers.

Man sitting on the couch, typing on the laptop
If you get scammed, there are still a few things you can do to fight back

Make Sure You Hire Reputable Bay Area Movers for Your Upcoming Move – Give Us a Call

The best way to avoid scammers is to hire reputable and trustworthy businesses such as ours. If you decide to contact us about your move, you can ensure that your local relocation will go smoothly and without any unpleasant surprises.

There Are No Better Movers Than Golden Bay Relocation

We offer more than a regular move – if you need commercial relocation, we are here for you, and our team is highly skilled in providing packing assistance. Packing and relocating with us are guaranteed to be a happy memory for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to contact us – we promise you there won’t be any frauds!

Leave a Reply