UNITED STATES—Life is tough. It’s a constant battle of wits and brawns to make a living. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to put food on the table by honest means. Some likes to earn easy cash by deceiving other people. Disappointing, yes, but it happens a lot.

That said, the moving industry has no shortage of scammers. Thankfully, the good guys still exist. Reputable moving companies are working hard to protect their clientele. And if you’re relocating to a large city like LA, here are some tips on how to protect yourself.

But first…

Why Hire a Moving Company?

Why spend money asking other people to do the job when you can do it yourself? Because relocation is not as simple as it sounds. You have to factor in the mental strain, physical effort, and financial burden that come with it.

Hiring professionals saves you from heavy work while allowing you to focus on more important matters. Enlisting movers makes even more sense when relocating to a bustling metro such as LA. They know how to navigate the traffic and weave around neighborhoods.

Did you know that movers are also cost-effective? Yes! Imagine the hospital bill if you injure yourself while lifting a heavy box. Or the price of a new TV if you happen to break your current one. You might not be saving upfront with movers, but you’re protecting yourself and your belongings in the long run.

Common Moving Scams to Look Out For

Alright. You get it. Movers are crucial to your relocation’s success. However, this doesn’t mean you should grab the first offer on the table. Who knows what sort of company you’ll be dealing with? Keep in mind that rogue movers are getting more cunning with their modus operandi.

One of LA’s top movers, Imperial Moving & Storage, hopes to help you avoid a financial disaster by sharing some approaches that scamming movers typically use:

  • Temptingly cheap offers. The movers will try to bait you by naming a price that sounds too good to be true. Some people fall for this, hoping to save more money. Unfortunately, movers will increase the cost at the end of the move or, worse, vanish without a trace.
  • False references. Most rogue movers don’t have a website because they don’t want to leave an online footprint. But some might show you decent sites filled with fake testimonials they wrote themselves. It can lead you to believe that they’re a legit company with a list of satisfied customers.
  • Over-the-phone estimates. A moving company that doesn’t evaluate your home in person is a major red flag. It’s even shadier when they tell you the pricing on the phone. Are they guessing the price? While many companies will give you a ballpark estimate over the phone, if you’re moving long-distance (and paying by the weight of the load), you’ll want to request an in-home estimate.
  • Large deposit. Reputable LA Movers let their work do the talking before collecting payment. A moving company that asks you to pay a hefty sum before initiating the move is a huge red flag. They may either hold your belongings hostage or take off without another word.
  • Suspicious documents. Be careful before you put your signature on any piece of paper. Rogue movers will sometimes hand you contracts with missing terms or shady clauses. Make sure you go over everything twice or even thrice before signing!
  • Lost items or damaged goods. While a moving company might have good intentions, you can’t be too sure about every individual on its team. So don’t leave any valuables lying around on moving day. At your new home, be sure to compare every box with your household inventory list.
  • Unlicensed company. The FMCSA registers moving companies to filter out the black sheep from the rest. Rogue movers typically use outdated equipment, hire inexperienced individuals or day labor, and drive rented trucks. All these make an obvious recipe for disaster.

How to Protect Yourself from Fraud

Scams will always be present no matter how much the government weeds out the rogue movers. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed. Since you already know the patterns of common moving scams, your next step should be to check your potential moving company’s credibility.

You can do this by:

  • Asking them to show proof of their license or authorization to operate granted by the California Bureau of Household Goods & Services.
  • Evaluating its online presence. Check the validity of the site and the authenticity of the people that gave their testimonials.
  • Reading reviews on credible sites, such as Google and Yelp. It would also help if you can reach out to those people and ask them about their experiences.
  • Insisting on a binding in-home estimate. First, a binding estimate ensures the movers can’t rip you off with hidden fees. Second, an in-home estimate allows you to meet the movers and assess their professionalism.
  • If possible, pay with a credit card or PayPal. Credit cards let you quickly cancel the transaction if something seems fishy, while PayPal enables you to file a dispute and get your money refunded.

Wrapping Things Up

Relocation can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. LA is a massive city with lots of nooks and crannies, making it easy for you to get lost. On top of that, the chances of getting scammed are real, not to mention how COVID-19 has added moving restrictions. But no need to worry! As long as you avoid the red flags above and get to know your company, you’ll be good to go.