How to Avoid Moving Scams in New York City and Find a Reputable Company

Written by: Hannah Michaelson

When planning a move, we have a lot on our minds, leading us to make mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is picking the wrong relocation crew- which leads to being a victim of moving scams. But, how will you know which business is legit and which one is a moving fraud? We can help you see the difference and hire the best New York movers.

How to avoid being a part of the moving scam? Keep reading to find out

Unfortunately, moving company scams are quite common these days. Scammers have made up many different techniques to extort money, and it can sometimes be hard to see through them. That’s why you have to learn about their basic tricks so that you can get to your new home safely and without any items or money lost.

How Do Moving Scams Work?

The first thing you should know about scammers is that they prey on those who are uninformed and have no idea how a reputable company should look and communicate with clients. They count on your relocation stress and hope that you’ll be so swamped with preparations and packing (especially if you are relocating with pets or kids)  that you won’t notice anything strange about their behavior. Just as apartment hunting in NYC wasn’t simple, avoiding scammers won’t be as well. But, with our guide and a few relocation hacks, you will be able to spot anything unusual and find yourself quality relocation services.

How Do I Not Get Scammed When I Move?

Spotting fraudulent service is even more important than finding out about all the relocation tips out there, trust us. So, what can you do to avoid being scammed and ensure that you move efficiently? The essential thing you have to do is thoroughly research all about the companies you consider hiring.

The more you find out about them, the lesser are the chances of them scamming you. During your research, you will see if the business does legit work or if they are fraudulent. So, grab your laptop, find a seat in one of the best cafes to work in NYC, and let’s get to work. Follow our tips, and you will quickly find out all the information you need to decide which companies can get you to one of the safest neighborhoods in the city without any unpleasant surprises.

To avoid fraud, you will have to do a lot of research on the business you want to hire

How Do I Know If a Moving Company Is Legit?

We have some good news for you – every fake mover or a fake business has a few tells. If you can see those red flags, you will be fine. The scammers always follow similar patterns, so once you get to know them, avoiding fraud will be no more complicated than packing glasses. Your move will be successful, and you will be able to start planning a staycation in NYC pretty soon after you settle in one of the best neighborhoods for families or singles (we all know that there are also excellent neighborhoods in NYC for singles).

First Step Is Checking Out Their Website

Obviously, every serious and reputable business must have an excellent, well-maintained website. You wouldn’t trust a bike rental business without a site, and you would do a double check before you order even some of the best takeout in NYC, so why should you trust a relocation business without one? If they don’t have a proper website, the chances are that they are a scam. You want to be able to see detailed descriptions of the work they do. What kind of service can they offer you? Can they transport your goods to the storage? Can they offer you packing assistance? These things are pretty important, and they can provide you with a lot of information – which can make a huge difference in your expenses checklist.

Do They Have a Licence?

Okay, we’ve established the basics about the site, you checked them, and it all seems legit. Does that mean you’ll be safe relocating with them to the best place to live in Queens, let’s say? No, you still have to see if the business has a valid license to provide this work. Anyone can buy a truck and call themselves a mover. But the relocation service is only valid if the business has a US DOT number, which is usually written at the bottom of their site. You can’t fake a DOT number because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) database contains all the licenses – if you can’t find the business in question on the FMCSA site, you shouldn’t hire them under any circumstances.

Workers and a truck don't make a legit business - always look for a license

Common Change of Name Is a Sign of a Scam

If you’re not careful, you can fall for this simple trick. Why is a change of name a common scam? It’s simple – they use it to delete all the negative reviews that were piling up online. Once people have been scammed, they usually write about it online so they can warn others. But, if the scammers change the name, you will only see a new site with not a lot of information. So, if you run into a business that seems brand new, without references, make sure that they aren’t scammers who have recently changed their name. This fraud works like a charm if you don’t know anything about the relocation industry – whether you’re going to be living in Staten Island, or you are about to move to one of the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan, scammers use this technique everywhere.

How Can You Check If They Have Recently Changed Their Name?

The FMCSA license contains the name of the business. If you ask to see a copy of their license and notice that the name on the license doesn’t match the name on the site – that’s a clear sign of fraud. By now, you’ve probably figured out that finding someone that will move your household goods isn’t an easy task and that a bad judgment can lead to a tremendous financial loss. So, you should focus more on looking for a relocation business and less on stuff like remembering the most commonly forgotten things to pack or checking off every item on your relocation to-do list.

Trust us when we tell you that being scammed can leave you so broke that you won’t be able to pay for a beer in one of the breweries in Manhattan (or anywhere else for that matter – the same goes for breweries in Queens, Bronx, or Brooklyn). If you want to be extra safe, check out the video below for additional tips on hiring help for a move.

Can You Find Real Reviews for Their Services?

Reviews are essential for, well, anything. You would check other’s experiences before buying stuff or visiting a place, right? You wouldn’t go on a hike near NYC without detailed research or visit a Bronx park or one of the Staten Island parks without first checking if it’s a good spot for your dog – can you say we’re wrong? So, you’ve already noticed the importance of reviews. Try to go through as many as you can – don’t rush. Dedicating time to researching New York movers is way more crucial than packing shoes or getting rid of items movers won’t move.

How to Spot a Fake Review?

Perfect, shiny reviews without even a single bad one – that’s a red flag. Even the most trustworthy businesses can’t be ideal for everybody. Real people make mistakes, so be sure that 100% positive reviews are practically impossible to accomplish. Fake reviews sound like a fairytale – they are too good to be true. Be aware of the stories about excellent experiences combined with unrealistically low price. Additionally, you should know not to rely on the company’s site only. Go to Yelp and other credible resources – that’s the place to find genuine reviews. If they don’t match the stuff you’ve read on the site, spoiler alert – you will be scammed.

The stories of scammers who have damaged countless household goods from people living in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and so on all have a similar pattern. Scammers don’t care if you’re living in Queens or somewhere in one of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan. They work everywhere. Check out the video below to see which are the five most common tactics.

Giving Out Estimates Without a Household Inspection Is a Huge Red Flag

Every reputable business will offer to give you an estimate based on the home inspection or an inventory list. That’s why they have to visit you, whether you’re living in Brooklyn, Bronx, or Upper West Side. Setting a price without first checking what you have to move to your lovely new place to work remotely in NYC is a clear sign of scammers, and it should tell you to run away as fast as you can.

Think about it – how can they know what they have to transport and how long it will take if they don’t check what’s in your home? What is the estimate based on, then? They can just set a random price that will probably sound great, but that’s only because they don’t intend actually to move your belongings. However, keep in mind that those who offer to do an inspection over video call don’t necessarily have to be frauds. This kind of practice is acceptable.

Home Inspection Has to Be Thorough

Even if you have set a time and date for the inspection, that still doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Pay close attention to the workers who come to give estimates for relocating your goods. Do they seem to be putting real effort into the work they are doing? Do they pay attention to details? That can tell you a lot. Scammers will only look casually without bothering to get into specifics.

If the workers seem uninterested and don’t do thorough work, we suggest you keep looking for another business that can help you move to one of the best places to live in Staten Island or your beautiful new house in the safest neighborhood in Queens. Don’t settle for anything less than perfect work – take your time. In the meanwhile, you can get to packing books or researching the best ways for packing pots and pans before it’s time to move to the best neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Proper inspection can tell you a lot about the relocation business you consider hiring

Don’t Trust Companies That Ask for Money Before the Move

If you run into a business that asks money from you before they have done their work, they aren’t to be trusted – not just in the relocation industry, but generally in life. Why? Think about it – you give them your money, and they will simply run away, never to be seen again. So, you then have to move to the safest neighborhood in Brooklyn, but what’s that safety good for now that you’ve already been robbed? Reputable businesses would never ask you to pay them upfront. Keep that in mind.

New York City Moving Companies That Have Unbelievably Low Quotes Shouldn’t Be Trusted

Let’s be honest here – no one who does quality work will do it for an unreasonably low amount of money, and the same goes for the relocation businesses. Why would they offer you crazy low estimates? That’s not in their interest, so you need to ask yourself – is this a legit offer?

Scammers like to use this simple trick, called a low-ball bid. That means they will give you a suspiciously low number, and then once they have your belongings in their possession, they will up their cost. Customers are cornered – if they don’t pay the new amount scammers asked for, they will never get to see their stuff again. Scammers can sell it all at auctions and keep the profit. It’s cruel, but it happens often. So, what good it was knowing how to pack a TV when your TV ends up stolen?

Never give your money upfront. Trustworthy business would never ask for that

Scammers Lack Good Communication Skills

All of the usual relocation frauds are based on the lack of communication between scammers and customers. It’s pretty logical – the more they communicate with you, the better are chances you’ll figure out something’s wrong or notice a significant red flag. That’s why frauds never like to answer your questions and don’t know how to help you with anything. So, if you come in contact with workers who seem clueless like they don’t even know which are the best neighborhoods in the Bronx, or how do you move large items – no way you should hire them.

There Should Always Be a Contract – If There’s Not, That’s a Sign of Suspicion

Law and common sense tell us that we need a contract between two parties before any work can be done correctly. If you’re not offered an agreement before the move, that’s a huge red flag. It means that workers can take your belongings anywhere, never return them, or just transport half of it to your new place and steal the rest. How will you sue them if you have no contract to show what the deal was? They might as well claim that you decided to donate furniture last minute, and that’s why some of it is missing. Avoid this nonsense – always ask for a contract, and read it carefully before you sign it. Every aspect of the move should be explained in detail, and anybody with good intentions will give you a detailed contract.

Trust Your Instinct – If the Mover Seems Fake, You Should Back Up From the Move

Let’s say that you’ve carefully researched and that everything about the relocation business you’ve decided to hire checks out. The move is approaching quickly, and you’re almost done packing. You’ve organized important documents, you have figured out how to change your address, and you’ve even learned how to stop getting mail for previous residents, just in case you need it after the move. You did the decluttering and found a place for mattress disposal. Sometimes, we do everything by the book, but that’s not enough. Even if you were as careful as you possibly can be, mistakes could still happen. Keep your eyes open, even on the relocation day. Workers who show up at your soon-to-be-former place can be frauds who avoided the suspicion quite well. But, how to tell if they are scammers?

Pay close attention to the relocation crew. First of all, they should be wearing uniforms. Also, watch their behavior. Do they seem like they know what they are doing, or do they look a bit inexperienced? Can they move a piano and other large belongings without damaging them? All of these little things can expose scammers. Don’t think that it’s too late – you can always cancel the move and save yourself all the trouble.

Always pay attention to the workers - do they seem legit to you?

What to Do When a Moving Company Scams You?

If the worst possible scenario has already happened to you, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to fight back. Here are a few suggestions on who to contact about filing a complaint:

  • The business itself,
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,
  • Better Business Bureau.

In cases of misunderstandings, which occasionally occur, the business will do its best to resolve the issue after your complaint has been filed. However, if you’re dealing with real scammers, that complaint won’t help you much. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may help, but you should also be ready to take things to court – the lawsuit is another option you have. If you’re not up for that, you can always share your story on social media. We all know what kind of power social media has. If nothing, you will help others.

You can still try a few things after you've been scammed

Looking for a Reputable New York Movers? Our Company Is Here for You Any Time

If you want to make your move a simple and efficient one, we can provide you with just that – residential relocation with our team of professional New York City movers is a walk in the park. Whatever your reasons to move are, rest assured that we will do whatever we can to help you feel relaxed and comfortable on your relocation day. If you’re having a commercial move, we got your back as well. Our local movers in New York will have no problem packing electronics safely and quickly – professionals know how best to pack computers, so the screens stay intact. You have nothing to worry about with us, and you are 100% safe from any relocation fraud.

Our Local Movers in New York Will Are the Best – You Can Expect Exceptional Services

Packing service is a life-saver when you have to pack to move in a hurry or if you’re inexperienced when it comes to relocations. That’s why we are here to help. Our packers are well-trained and will use all their knowledge to wrap up perfectly even the most fragile items you own. You wouldn’t have to figure out how to pack furniture or worry about properly packing plates – we can do it all for you. So, contact us, and you’ll know that your move will go smoothly. You can relax and focus on learning about clothes donation sites in NYC that you’ll need for the decluttering stage, or organizing the best going-away party!

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