Moving should be an exciting time! You've found a new apartment or condo to rent, you've boxed up your belongings and you've found a moving company to help you pack up your furniture and boxes and help you move into your new apartment.
Now, you're excited to unpack and settle into your new home. But during the move, things went terribly wrong with the moving company. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. In 2017, more than 4,100 complaints of moving fraud were filed. What's more, the average person who files a moving fraud complaint reports losing $8,000.
If you've been the victim of a suspected moving scam, this article will walk you through reporting moving fraud step-by-step.
Everybody reporting moving fraud has different reasons for filing a complaint. While cases vary, here are five times you should file a formal complaint instead of just venting your frustrations on social media or among friends.
During a move, boxes are bound to shift in place and furniture may get a few scratches. While some wear-and-tear happens, if your items are badly damaged or entirely ruined, it's within your rights to file a formal complaint against the moving company.
It's smart to have documentation and proof, so before you let the movers put your furniture and other items in the moving truck, thoroughly inspect and take pictures of fragile and meaningful items.
When the movers unload your items, conduct an inspection and make sure there's no major damage to your belongings. If there is, you'll have before and after evidence to back up your claim.
Moving companies should be professional and know how to load a truck to ensure minimal damage and avoid issues on their watch. When items are badly damaged during a move, it's time to file a complaint.
As crazy as it sounds, loss and theft can happen during a move. Before the movers arrive to transport your things, make a detailed inventory and list everything the movers will be moving.
If something goes missing, you'll know exactly what it was and can verify it using your inventory list. Should your items go missing, it's best to report moving fraud.
In some scenarios, moving companies will refuse to release your possessions until you pay them more money than the agreed-upon amount in the contract. If this has happened to you, it's in your best interest to immediately start reporting moving fraud.
Before you sign a contract with a moving company, do your due diligence and get at least three bids. This will allow you to price shop and make sure you're not being overcharged.
If you're paying a company an hourly rate, come to a firm agreement ahead of time about how long the move will take you so aren't taken advantage of. However, if you've already moved but were overcharged, you can and should still file a complaint against the company.
It may seem like the moving company is doing you a favor by moving your things, but don't forget that this is a business deal. You've paid for moving services and have established a contract between you and the moving company. Part of that expectation and business agreement is that the movers will show up on a pre-determined date and time.
Given that moving into a new home is often time-sensitive, the moving company needs to be on time. If they're inordinately late, you should file a formal complaint.
These are five reasons to file a formal complaint and report moving fraud, but they are not the only legitimate reasons. If you feel you've been scammed by your moving company in another way or see red flags, file a complaint.
When you've been scammed, you may feel vulnerable and hopeless, which is perfectly reasonable. But you do have options and a course of action to help you recover from moving scams.
Now that we've discussed different reasons to file a complaint, let's discuss exactly how to officially file and report moving fraud.
The best recourse if you have an issue with the moving company is to get in touch with them directly. Through conversation, you may be able to resolve the issue immediately.
Let the moving company management team know what the issue is, let them know exactly what happened and what you're asking them to do about it. This is where you're inventory list, pictures and other evidence will become handy. If you have proof and objective evidence, you may be able to process your complaint quickly and resolve the issue efficiently.
However, if the moving company isn't willing to work with you or is unresponsive, you should take additional steps when reporting moving fraud.
In today's digital world, an online review can make or break your business. Because companies rely on word-of-mouth and online reviews for future business, a negative review can have a devastating impact on the company.
If you tried talking to your moving company about your issue and they ignored you, it's well within your place to write a negative review about your experience. Try to stay professional when writing a review and simply state the facts. This may encourage the moving company owner to jump in and resolve the issue.
The next option when reporting moving fraud is to file formal complaints with relevant associations:
As the last step, you may consider taking your case to a small claims court to seek financial reimbursement. Before you do this though, you'll want to calculate the cost of legal fees and compare it to the cost of what was lost, damaged or stolen.
If the legal fees are less than the cost of your personal belongings, it might be worth pursuing. But, if you'd lose even more money in legal fees, this might not be worth moving forward with.
Even the most prepared people can fall victim to moving scams. Here are some helpful resources to reference before your next move to protect you and your belongings.
The FMCSA Moving Checklist can help you plan for your upcoming move. It'll help you think through things you may have forgotten and potentially prevent moving fraud.
Research different moving companies and read thorough reviews about different moving companies. Reading consumer reviews can be helpful because they aren't written by a specific brand, but offer unbiased information.
If you're the victim of moving fraud, the FMCSA State-Level Law Enforcement Resources will direct you to law enforcement offices in your new area.
The FMCSA Protect Your Move Blog is also a great resource that provides a variety of information about moving and is helpful during any stage of the move.
These resources provide additional information and could save you from the stress of moving fraud as well as save you money in the long run.