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Police Department Advising of Moving Company Scam

The Cedar Rapids Police Department has recently taken three reports concerning moving company scams.  In the cases reported in Cedar Rapids, the victims are provided an estimate of moving expenses and make a down payment, but then are told that the actual cost to get their possessions is several times higher than the original estimate. 

Most moving companies are legitimate businesses that do quality work.  However, nationwide there have been a number of complaints filed against interstate movers and their fraudulent practices.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a growing number of complaints have been filed against movers lately – many of which are due to the “fraudulent practices of rogue movers.” 

Moving company scams often begin with a low estimate provided to the customer over the telephone or Internet.  There is no visit to your home where the movers can actually see the items that you want moved.  Once your items are on the moving truck, the movers demand more money before they will deliver or unload them.  If you want your possessions back, you are forced to pay more than you agreed to. 

Be cautious of any moving company that doesn’t offer or agree to an on-site inspection of your household items that need to be moved.  If an estimate sounds too good to be true, it usually ends up being a scam. Be cautious of a moving a company that does not have a local address or information about their registration or insurance.  Another “red flag” is that on moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.  

The Police Department recommends that customers do the following when considering hiring a moving company:

  1. Get a written estimate from several movers.
  2. Make sure the mover is registered with the proper authority and is insured.
  3. Read “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” booklet from the federal government that your mover is required to give you if you are moving from one state to another (booklet is available online at www.protectyourmove.gov).
  4. Check the mover’s complaint history with the local Better Business Bureau and consumer protection agencies.
  5. Remember your priorities when choosing a mover.  A mover chosen based solely on the cheapest price may sacrifice what is most important, including getting your possessions moved safely and on time.  According to the FMCSA, movers are required by law to deliver your goods for no more than ten percent above the price of a non-binding estimate.
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