Moving Company Scams: 7 Things to Look Out For

Last updated on October 22 2020, M. Rodríguez

Have all the moving horror stories left you skeptical about making the big move? If yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid becoming the main character on one of these stories. Read on to find out how to achieve a scam-free move!

As if moving wasn’t already stressful enough, adding the possibility of getting scammed into the mix certainly doesn’t make it any better. We don’t have to tell you that moving company scams are no joke, and that trying to avoid a fraudulent company should definitely be your number one priority.

Because our job is to make your life easier, we compiled a list of the 7 things to watch out for when evaluating a moving company!

Wait! Before you start reading all about moving scams… why not accompany this light reading with the playlist below? It might make this so not-so-fun topic a little bit more bearable! 😉

1. The Mover Isn’t Licensed By the FMCSA

To keep a long story short, the trucking industry in the United States is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association –FMCSA for short. To do such, the FMCSA issues a USDOT number to all companies interesting on legally operating commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce.

To find out whether a mover holds USDOT number, the easiest thing to do is to first scout their website for it —usually it’s listed at the bottom of the website! If you cannot seem to find this number, it’s very likely that the company isn’t licensed by the FMCSA and therefore, it’s not a mover you should trust.

Tip!: Did you know you can use a mover’s USDOT to find super relevant information about the company? The only thing you need to do is plug it in the FMCSA’s database, and voila!

2. Insurance Is Nowhere to Be Found

Like any smart firm, a professional (and legitimate!) moving company is likely to be insured. Insurance doesn’t only protect the mover against wrongful lawsuits, but also provided the company with the means to reimburse customers for any damages or losses that happen during the move.

Let’s face it, even if the company doesn’t have the customer’s best interest at heart, it should definitely at least have its own… right? 

3. Estimates Are Based on Cubic Feet

This one is for our long distance movers! One of the most common moving scams you’ll encounter when moving cross country is receiving estimates from a moving company that are based on cubic feet rather than on weight.

Generally (and by generally we mean 99.99% of the time), moving companies carrying out long distance moves estimate the price of a move based on the weight of the shipment, mileage, and additional services. So, if you receive a quote in any metric other than pounds, beware because this is actually illegal! Do keep in mind that for smaller and/or local moves, estimates based on cubic feet are perfectly fine.

Tip!: Unsure how to find out the total weight of your move? Our handy moving space calculator is the perfect tool to help you out with this. 😉

Depiction of a calculator on top of papers containing facts and figures

4. A Contract Is Sent Before an In-Home Survey Is Done

If a mover sends you a contract without performing an in-home survey first, or simply refuses to carry out one, you should probably run the other way. To provide the most accurate quotes possible, any professional and legitimate mover will always make a thorough inventory of your belongings.

If for some reason a mover doesn’t carry out in-home estimates, it’s very likely that they will rely on you putting together an inventory list by yourself. This can, of course, lead to underestimation and therefore, underquoting on their behalf. And eventually, when the moving day comes, this underestimation will give them the perfect excuse to rack up your bill!

5. “Too Good to Be True” Seems Like More Than a Saying

It’s certainly no secret that moving costs a pretty penny, so it’s only natural if you feel compelled to accept the most reasonably priced offer. But, watch out! Sometimes these offers are simply too good to be true.

This is why we at Sirelo recommend requesting quotes from multiple movers –this will help you get a better picture of what the average should be and what is definitely way out of the norm!

Looking to Relocate?

Choose the size of your move below to receive up to 5 free moving quotes!

6. Third-party Reviews are MIA

Probably one of the easiest tricks in the book when it comes to avoiding moving scams is checking online reviews. If by doing a quick Google search you cannot seem to find any reviews on the moving company you’re evaluating, it’s probably best to skip it all together!

As scammers usually abandon their company name after deceiving a few customers, a moving company not having any third-party reviews is usually a good indication that there’s something fishy going on. So beware!

Tip!: Did you know that you can find customer reviews for over 800 moving companies on Sirelo? We’re here to help you weed out the scammers! 😉

Man pressing on a star to leave a one star review on a moving company to help others like him avoid a moving scam

7. The Mover Requests Large Upfront Payments

Last but not least, one of the clearest signs of a moving company scams is when a mover requests a large upfront deposit. Even though it’s not illegal, and most movers actually request deposits as collateral, this is not common practice within the moving industry.

So if a mover seems completely legitimate in your books, but they’re still ask for a deposit, make sure to ask the reason behind it! As well, keep in mind that a deposit should never be more than a few hundred dollars (20% of your move is usually the max they should ask for). If a mover requests a deposit that is nearly half of your total moving costs, you’ll probably in for a moving scam —watch out!

Wrappin’ Up

Want to make sure you don’t forget about the key moving company scams you should watch out for? We got your back. Our handy infographic summarizes them below for you!

Infographic summarizing the 7 things to look out for to avoid a moving company scam

Next Steps

We hope that after this short reading you’ve become a moving scams expert! In case you need further assistance planning your move, we recommend that you check out the following pages:

Share this article: