Moving scams causing financial, emotional nightmares during pandemic

BBB study finds coronavirus has major impacts on moving decisions.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 12:00 PM CDT
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Allowing someone you don’t know to drive away with your belongings is among the many stressful aspects of a long-distance move -- especially if that move is complicated or maybe prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many consumers find their stress compounded by fraudulent movers who charge them many times the amount quoted, subject them to unreasonably long delivery windows, hold their items hostage for additional undisclosed fees and leave them with damaged goods, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Apartment List surveyed thousands across the country and found that the pandemic is a major driving decision on both sides or the spectrum. Economic uncertainty is the biggest driver on both ends of the spectrum.

Seventeen percent of Americans are more likely to look for a new home this year, while 30 percent are more likely to stay where they are. Many of those choosing to stay put, site coronavirus concerns, according to the BBB.

Among the many who have been laid off since March, 32 percent are more likely to move this year for find less expensive living situations, many said they are not moving because of tight finances.

The BBB found that scams are widespread in the moving industry, particularly when it comes to interstate moves.

The best way to avoid such scams, BBB’s study states, is to do careful research before hiring a moving company. The BBB receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year, with many complaints describing how experiences with dishonest moving companies have turned into financial and emotional nightmares.

The full investigative study by the BBB can be found here. Specifically, the report advises looking up a mover’s license number on FMCSA’s website and its BBB Business Profile at

“Most people only move a few times in their lives, so hiring a mover may be an unfamiliar process that leaves them vulnerable to scams,” Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau said. “The good news is that there are plenty of reputable movers. Unfortunately, they are competing against some movers that just don’t care about ethics. This puts the burden on consumers to do thorough research to avoid excessive expense and heartache.”

According to the study, a fraudulent moving company initially may be helpful on the phone and may have a well-designed website boasting of its many years of experience, well-trained workers, satisfied customers and appropriate licensing. However, the red flags begin when the company claims to be unable to make an inspection or an estimate in person. An initial low-ball quote soon balloons as the company claims -- often based on improper calculations.

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