Moving During a Pandemic? How to Avoid Being Scammed
In a normal year, we'd be smack dab in the middle of the peak moving season, which is generally considered to be from April through September. Census Bureau statistics from 2019 indicate that last year about 31 million people in the U.S., the majority of whom moved during this peak period.
Moving, even when there is not a pandemic going on, isn't the most relaxing thing a person can choose to do. And, especially now, a lot of people don't get to choose. The other issue right now is, because of the COVID-19 situation, some unscrupulous moving companies are taking the opportunity to separate people from their money.
The Better Business Bureau of South Dakota has some things to look out for and ways to protect yourself.
Movers tactics to watch out for:
- Low estimates and Big after-the-fact increases - Some victims reported being charged up to 5 times the original estimate! Ask whether the estimate is binding or nonbinding and get a written guarantee that they won't charge beyond the original estimate.
- Extra charges - Once the mover has all of your worldly possessions in theirs, they make take it upon themselves to hold your stuff hostage for extra charges. Report this to law enforcement immediately.
- Delivery date - "Sorry, your stuff is stuck behind someone else's on the truck."
- Mover disappears - Once they have your belongings and deposit, they ghost you.
What you can do:
- Do your homework - This is true of any consumer service or product. Check out the movers you are considering by going to the Better Business Bureau website. You can also research movers at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).
- Get more than one estimate - Written estimates only, no over-the-phone ones!
- License and proof of insurance - Verify their license at the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. Make sure you see it, find out what their insurance covers specifically.
- Deposit - Do not pay more than 15% of the total cost as a deposit.
- Check out their business location - Drive by it and verify that it does indeed exist.
- Cash - No. Just no. Do not ever pay in cash, or you'll have no evidence of the transaction.
- Full replacement coverage - Paying a bit extra for this could help when any of your items are broken or destroyed - - because it happens, often.
For more information see the BBB South Dakota online or call 605-271-2066.