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Moving this summer? Beware of moving scams before hiring help

During National Moving Month, the Better Business Bureau warns of moving scams.
(KVLY)
Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 4:26 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Scammers are targeting Wisconsinites making moves this season. The Better Business Bureau is tracking moving scams and sharing how to avoid becoming a victim.

With so many making major milestones like graduating or getting a new job, May is often a busy time for those preparing for a move. The month was designated National Moving Month in 1997.

According to the BBB, more than $230,000 was lost to fraudulent moving companies last year. The most common targets are typically those between the ages of 20-29, according to the BBB.

There are several kinds of moving scams reported to the BBB each year. Issues range from paying a deposit just to find that the movers paid for the job never show up, consumers have also reported the company failing to return their items after the truck is packed or being charges an additional fee unexpectedly to receive their belongings.

As moving season picks up, it’s important to know what to look out for when hiring a moving company.

To avoid becoming a victim, here are some recommendations from the BBB:

  • Watch out for warning signs. When reviewing a company’s website, if there is no address or information about a mover’s registration or insurance, it is a sign that it may not possess the proper policies to protect a consumer’s belongings. Additionally, if the mover uses a rented truck or offers an estimate over the phone prior to conducting an on-site inspection, it may not be a legitimate business.
  • Be wary of unusual requests. If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance, that may be an indication of a fraudulent business. If an individual’s possessions are being held hostage for additional payment that was not agreed upon when the contract was signed, contact BBB or local law enforcement for help.
  • Get everything in writing. When moving between states, check licensing with the U.S. Department of Transportation. An identification number is required of all interstate moving companies, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which can be verified at ProtectYourMove.org. Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the limits of liability and any disclaimers. The pickup and expected delivery date should be easily identified.
  • Keep an inventory of your belongings. Having an inventory sheet is one of the best ways to keep track of your possessions. BBB recommends consumers who are moving label the boxes their belongings are packed in and what is in each box. In general, movers are not liable for lost or damaged contents in customer-packed boxes unless there is provable negligence on the part of the mover. Taking photos of the contents prior to packing is a great way to prove if damages were incurred during the moving process.
  • Ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. If the moving company either can’t or won’t answer your questions, look for another company. Trust matters when hiring a moving company.
  • With the precautions introduced by the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC when moving into a new residence, either as a family or individual.

Click here to access BBB’s 2020 report of moving scams.

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