You just got the job of your dreams and are moving to another state. You pack all of your belongings and call a moving company to help you get everything to your new apartment. You pull up to your new place and head to the moving van to start directing the movers on where to go with the boxes — except they won't listen to you.
They say if you want your stuff, you need to pay them more than what you initially agreed upon. Basically, they're scamming you. Either you pay them more or you lose all of your belongings.
This situation is more common than we'd like to believe and many people fall victim to such moving scams. In 2018 alone, nearly 6,000 people filed moving fraud complains with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you're ever in a similar situation and are dealing with rogue movers, follow these steps to help get your belongings and prevent others from becoming victims.
If movers are demanding money before they unload your stuff, it's a major red flag. Don't give them the money. There's no guarantee they'll actually give you your belongings once you've paid. They could easily drive off with a full truck of items, even after you fork over the money.
Start by filing a written complaint with the moving company. In some situations, this may not solve the problem as the entire company may be illegitimate, but it can help you later on.
You'll want to document your complaint in case you end up taking legal action and need evidence to show the authorities.
Contact the FMCSA and file a report against the moving company. Because it's a federal agency, the FMCSA can open an investigation to get your stuff back and even some of your initial payment.
If there's a strong enough case against the company, it could lose its license to operate as a business. Some moving companies don't actually have licenses, in which case, they're often slapped with a heavy fine.
You should also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and let them know the moving company scammed you. This can't always fix your situation, but filing a complaint with the BBB could save others from being scammed by the same company.
In tough situations, you may find it helpful to get assistance from a third-party organization. There are a few organizations, like Move Rescue, that will help you through the process of reclaiming hostage belongings.
They're often backed by reputable sources and companies, even lawyers and other legal officials, and will help you know what steps to take in order to rectify the situation.
Knowledge is power, so let others know about moving scams so they don't also become a victim. It's easy to communicate through both word of mouth and social media. You can quickly reach hundreds, even thousands, of people and save them from a stressful situation. You may even want to contact the local news to help educate others in your area about moving scams.
A moving scam isn't something you want to experience, so educate yourself and keep an eye out for red flags when searching for a moving company. As a consumer, it's your responsibility to make a knowledgable decision and choose a legitimate company in the first place.
There's no way to guarantee that you won't fall victim to a moving scam. But, if you follow these steps above, you'll help reduce your risk.