Moving scams can be one of the most nerve-racking parts of local moving because it’s often very difficult to differentiate between disreputable and reputable moving companies. That’s why it’s so important to familiarize yourself with potential scams in order to minimize the potential of falling victim to one. If you’re looking to relocate in the Fairfax, Virginia, region, make sure to keep your eyes open for the following scams or disreputable business practices that could end up costing you a lot of money come move day.
Moving Scams to Be Aware of in the Fairfax, Virginia, Region
The Moving Deposit Scam
With the advent of the Internet and so many companies with online presences now, it can be particularly difficult to know which specific Fairfax movers are trustworthy, and the relative anonymity provided by the Internet has spurred a rash of new scams you need to be aware of.
One such scam involves the moving deposit. People will set up a fraudulent ad on Craigslist or some other online forum to look like a legitimate Fairfax moving company. When you contact the number, though, the company states it will not perform the actual move without a large up-front deposit.
However, everything about the ad is fake. There is no such company, and the people who took the money have no intention of ever actually performing your move for you.
The Phone Estimate Scam
This next moving scam is often done by actual movers in Northern Virginia. That is, this is not a scam where people merely pose as movers. The phone estimate scam is a way that a real moving company can swindle people out of lots of money.
It involves only offering a phone moving estimate rather than going to that person’s home to see and assess everything that must be moved. This allows the company to significantly raise the price at the end of the move when everything takes longer than the deliberately low phone estimate projected.
The Paperwork Scam
There are several paperwork-related ways a moving company can cheat you out of money. The first is by not offering paperwork at all. If a company refuses to provide a written home estimate, for example, you won’t have a good sense of how the charges will be computed, and that can easily lead to unpleasant financial surprises at the end of the move.
There’s also the blank contract, wherein you sign paperwork before every slot has been filled out. This allows the company to fill in any details it wants, and your signature legally binds you to agree to those terms.
Any and all paperwork should always be clear and complete. This also helps avoids being sprung with hidden fees, such as a fuel surcharge or extra fees for stairs and/or elevators.
How to Avoid a Moving Scam When Dealing with Northern Virginia Moving Companies
There are no guarantees you’re not going to encounter a scam when selecting your Northern Virginia moving company. However, there are some simple ways to reduce the chance that you’ll fall victim to one of these scams or disreputable business practices.
- Educate yourself! Learn about the potential scams in your area that could affect your next move.
- Choose Northern Virginia movers with landlines. While a cell phone for the business line isn’t necessarily an indication of a disreputable company, it is a potential red flag that you might be dealing with some individual rather than honest, experienced, professional movers.
- Choose moving companies in Northern Virginia with physical locations. An office address rather than a PO box, warehouse, or residential unit is a good indication you’re dealing with a reputable moving company. Simply enter the given address into any online map. At that point, it will become obvious whether you’re dealing with a brick and mortar location or not.
- Avoid all Northern VA movers who refuse to offer in-home moving estimates. The only way to obtain an accurate, detailed written estimate is if those movers come to your physical location and see everything that must be moved.
- Read any and all online moving company reviews and testimonials you can find about that company. Reviews are a great way to get unbiased confirmation of a company’s honesty and professionalism.
- Avoid companies that have only been in business for a few years. One, they could be inexperienced, which could lead to overbooking or failing to show up. Two, they could potentially have changed their name in order to get around the Better Business Bureau (BBB) due to complaints under a previous name.
For more information about the scams you should watch for when you undertake your next local move, feel free to contact a representative of All Star Movers, Fairfax movers since 1977.