Moving to a college dorm? Here’s how you can choose a reliable mover and avoid scams

As students get ready to move out of their parent’s homes and in to their college dorm, they may be looking at moving items themselves or hiring professional movers.

Finding a reliable mover with a good deal can be hard, it can also lead people in to a scam.

Last year, consumers filed 15.198 complaints with the Better Business Bureau against moving companies and the BBB Scam Tracker reported $129,040 lost in moving scams.

BBB found there are several versions of the moving scam – paying upfront only for movers to never show, or movers provide a quote based on the expected weight, but after loading the truck they charge more money by the pound.

The worst of them all is when everything is paid and loaded, the truck never arrives at the destination, they lose the belongings or hold the belongings hostage, requiring consumers to pay more money.

The uptick in complaints have gotten Department of Transportation to take notice, and this month the department said it will do more to crack on fraudulent movers.

DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched ” Operation Protect Your Move” and deployed a dozen investigators across the country to investigate the moving complaints and crack down on moving companies and brokers that don’t comply with federal safety and consumer protection regulations.

“Moving is stressful enough without having to worry about being scammed by your moving company, so we’re cracking down on moving companies that hold people’s possessions hostage, and the brokers who facilitate that fraud,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Choosing a moving company

The DOT’s Office of Inspector General investigates complaints on moving fraud, which may include fraudulent billing, lowballing the moving estimate to lure customers into payment only to later withhold items unless money is paid, weight bumping the shipment can we briefly define?, or inflating and falsifying the amount of supplies needed for the move.

The office advises the following when choosing a moving company:

  • Shop around – By contacting reputable and long-standing moving companies, it can give you an idea what the legitimate cost of your move will be.
  • \Ask the moving company if they will be conducting the move or if it is being brokered for fulfillment by another company.
  • Keep records of contracts, proof of payments, and communication with the moving company.
  • Check reviews – What have other people said about the business? Read through the reviews and ratings, even the bad ones.
  • Verify their Address – Check whether the moving company’s address is a legitimate business or residence being passed off as a moving company.
  • Check mover’s DOT number – Interstate movers must have a DOT number.

The do-it-yourself moving guide

Planning a move by yourself? Movers like U-HAUL have tips:

  • Make a checklist − Organize yourself so you don’t forget what to pack and what steps to take in your move.
  • Sort and declutter − What really needs to stay or go? The less items, the better. For a solo move, it can be a real money saver.
  • Buy moving supplies − Different size boxes, mattress pads, tape, a TV moving box and packing kit for dishes and glassware.
  • Pack your things − Pack away less frequently used items first, and do a little packing daily so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • Rent a truck or portable moving container.
  • Consider hiring movers if you need them.

Fell for a moving scam? Here’s how to report them

  • If your movers defrauded you, the federal government may launch an investigation into the scam. You can file a complaint with FMCSA by either using their online complaint tool, call 888-DOT-SAFT (888-368-7238) or email them at [email protected]
  • You can also find state-level enforcement and file a report.
  • Also file a report with local law enforcement.

Amritpal Kaur Sandhu-Longoria