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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > June 2023 > Don’t get scammed when moving to a new home

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Don’t get scammed when moving to a new home

Are you planning to move soon? As part of your preparations, take care in choosing a moving service.
Some con artists pretend to be movers – providing cost estimates and accepting deposits – but don’t show up for the job.

Other scammers estimate a price based on the weight or volume of the items being moved, but switch gears on you come moving day. After loading your items on a truck, the scammer informs you that your belongings weigh more or total more cubic feet than quoted in the estimate – then tells you the move will cost significantly more.

A third type of moving scam starts out well – it seems to be smooth sailing – but your belongings don’t show up at your new home. The belongings are either lost forever, or they’re held hostage until you pay an additional fee.

Before hiring a mover, consumers should learn their rights and research moving companies using resources available through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Be sure to find out how long a moving company has been in business, look for reviews from previous customers, and ask for proof that the company is licensed and insured. Do an internet search of the company’s name and words such as “scam” and “complaint” to learn more about the company’s reputation and any customer grievances.

The PUCO has important information about consumers’ rights when hiring movers. For consumers moving across state lines, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates interstate moving companies. Also, you may want to review the BBB’s June 2020 study of moving scams, which primarily concentrates on state-to-state moves.

Here are some red flags to look for and tips to consider when hiring a moving company:
  • Be suspicious if the company doesn’t list an address or provide information about its registration and/or insurance coverage. The same goes for a business that doesn’t use a company name when answering a phone call or that uses rented trucks instead of its own vehicles. These may be signs that the mover isn’t in business for the long haul.
  • Avoid companies that require a large down payment or payment in full before the move. And do not pay cash unless services are completed.
  • Be sure to get a written contract from the moving company and read the terms, conditions and any other fine print before signing it. Be sure the written contract spells out the dates that your belongings will be picked up and delivered, as well as how the rate is calculated. Save all documentation in case you need to refer to or provide it if questions or concerns arise.
  • Most movers base pricing on a flat rate or an hourly rate. Some flat-rate estimates might be higher because they account for the fact that the move may take longer than expected. Flat-rate quotes may offer you peace of mind and more certainty. For long-distance moves or larger homes, some experts say a flat rate may be better for the budget-minded consumer.
  • Some movers may quote an estimate based on the weight or volume of your items. According to the BBB, “Rogue operators prefer to give estimates in cubic feet. Volume is easier to manipulate than weight, so they can later claim additional charges.”
  • Get at least three in-person or virtual estimates as part of your research. Scammers may refuse face-to-face meetings and low-ball their estimates over the phone.
  • Inventory all of the items being moved and the number of boxes being transported to your new home. Look for companies that provide full-value protection insurance in case any items are lost or damaged. Also, find out what your existing homeowner’s policy will cover.
  • Take photos before and after the move in case you have insurance claims involving broken or damaged items.
  • Consider moving certain items yourself. especially your Social Security card, passport and other personal documents.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.