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How to Avoid Moving Scams and Find a Reputable Company

Written by: Jane Davis

We’ve all heard stories of various moving scams and their terrifying outcomes, and it’s something that fears us even when we are not about to move. But, if you are, well – you are especially worried and stressed about this. While these types of things are rare, they do happen, so it’s wise to be extra careful when choosing your movers in Orange County.

After all, these are the people you are about to entrust with all your household goods, money, and the floors and walls of your new home. Not to mention your nerves in this already stressful situation. That’s why we are here with useful information to help you get the scammers and bad relocation companies out of the way and choose the best movers in Orange County, CA, for your next move.

Is It Better to Move Yourself or Hire Movers?

Well, this one is a no-brainer, isn’t it? Of course, it’s much easier to hire professional movers in Orange County to handle this task for you than to have to do it all by yourself. If you can afford it, of course. How much does a local move cost, you may ask? It can cost from $500-$2,000, or even more, depending on the size. So, set your budget, see if you can afford it, and create a relocation expenses checklist.

If you can, you can even choose to use the packing services – it will take so much moving stress off of your chest. And if you can’t afford to use the services of Orange County movers – don’t fret it, as it’s a local move, after all, and people do it by themselves all the time. It just takes a bit more work, time, energy, and your nerves – that’s all.

Professional Orange County movers carrying large box
It’s always better to have professional help when it comes to relocating

What Are Some Common Red Flags to Look Out For?

When you are too consumed with all the tasks from your to-do list, just trying your best to move efficiently and not forget any of the most commonly forgotten things to pack – you’re an easy target. You just want to get everything done so you can enjoy your new home in some of the best places to live in Orange County, CA, and it may be easy to overlook some major red flags. Or maybe you are relocating for the first time, and you don’t even know what these red flags are and what’s normal and what’s not standard in this industry. Well, luckily for you, we’ve been in this business for a while, and we know exactly what goes and what doesn’t. And we are willing to share some significant red flags so that your alarm goes on and you move on to the next Orange County, CA movers.

The ‘Bait and Switch’ Moving Scam

This is the most common type of scam – the company offers you an unrealistically low estimate only to bait you, and then you end up paying much more than you agreed to. They can wait for the last minute when all your stuff is already packed in the truck to inform you of this, or they can just add up some jacked-up weights or made-up services after the move.

Either way, the best way to go about this is to follow the old saying – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if the initial estimate you receive sounds too good – pass on it. It’s also advisable to get in-home estimates from more than one mover and compare their estimates. If one of them is much lower than the others – well, it’s likely a scam.

101 Moving Tips – Steer Clear From Companies That Ask Money Upfront

This is as clear as it gets when it comes to red flags – if a mover asks you to pay upfront or for any type of deposit, run for the hills. Nothing good can come out of it. No reputable mover would ever ask for money before the move is complete. It’s not how things go in the industry. If you give them some sort of cash as a deposit before even signing the contract, you may never see them again.

If you hand them all the money and your stuff – you may never see any of them again, or your household goods can be held hostage until you pay whatever price they ask for. Yes, this happens to people – imagine everything you own, including something irreplaceable, like your grandfather’s watch or even old photos being held hostage until you can gather the amount they ask for. So, when a mover you encounter asks for any kind of payment upfront – hit the road and don’t look back.

Companies That Give You a Quote Without a Visit to Your Home

Another red flag and a sign that something’s off is if a company gives you a quote over the phone without an on-site inspection. People usually have more things at home than they themselves even realize, so how is an agent going to know what you have in your closet or how much something weighs? They have no way of knowing that, so it’s likely that it’s a fraud.

Even if they show up at your place and only give it a glance without paying attention to detail – be wary. They should be doing a lot of measuring and asking a lot of questions in order to provide you with a reasonable quote, one that will not vary significantly from the final price. In order words – they should pay attention to details, and you should pay attention that they do so.

The Name-Changing Habits Are a Sign of a Moving Fraud

When they frequently change their name – they’re not at the top of the game. If a company you’re dealing with changes the name almost annually, there’s something shady going on there. Usually, when they change their name, they want to distance themselves from a bad reputation (and a bad name they, most likely, earned). If a company does this more than once or worse, does it habitually, well – you get the picture.

They are scammers, and once the word gets out, they just change the name and go about their scamming business as usual. Ask for a copy of their business license. If the name is different from the one on the website, or if the license is expired or more than six months old – don’t buy the excuses; just end the communication.

No Reviews of Their Services Online

When you are trying to find out how to pack plates or trying to figure out how to move a piano by yourself, search for the reviews of the mover you’re interested in online. If they don’t have third-party reviews, then you should pass it. Usually, companies that have been in business even for a couple of months should be able to accumulate reviews on sites such as Yelp or Facebook.

Hey, folks like leaving reviews, especially if they’ve had a really good or bad experience. If the company you’re interested in has none – well, sometimes the lack of reviews can tell you more than any negative review. And if a company has a bunch of reviews, like most that have been in this industry for years usually do – focus on the most recent ones and the ones that detail the service you are looking to use. Do thorough research so you can know what you can expect.

Last But Not Least – No License

While this may be the last thing on our list, it’s definitely not the least important. Quite the opposite – if a mover doesn’t have a license, and it can’t provide you with a USDOT number, it may be the biggest red flag of them all. Everyone can just get a truck and try to call themselves movers. Scammers can even fake reviews, but they can’t fake a USDOT number.

So, check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for more information and see if they are a legit and licensed company. If they are not in the database, they most likely are running some kind of fraud, so find another mover to take your goods to your new home in one of the safest cities in Orange County.

computer and relocation bills on the desk
Checking if a business is legit is easy nowadays with the help of a computer

Do Movers Charge by Weight or Volume?

This is a good question. Usually, for long-distance moves, the price should be based on weight rather than volume (cubic feet). Prices based on cubic feet are illegal for interstate moves, and it’s something that should be reported to FMCSA. While this is a rule of thumb for interstate moves, it’s not so much so for local moves. Small and short local relocations can offer prices based on volume. It’s acceptable, and it’s not a red flag per se, but most of them usually charge per hour. But, if you are using a long-distance mover and they charge per cubic feet – make sure it’s a mover you can trust. Here’s a video with some helpful information regarding how to save enough money for your upcoming move.

How to Avoid Moving Scams?

Now that you know about some major red flags to look out for, it will be much easier for you to protect yourself from falling victim to moving company scams. Because it may be too much info all at once, we will also make a quick recap of the things you can do and the steps you can take to make sure you are dealing with legit local movers in Orange County, California. That way, you’ll be able to organize your going-away party with peace of mind.

  • License – Check if the mover is licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Rights and Responsibilities – Under Federal Law, a licensed mover should provide you with the ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move’ brochure with information on your rights as a customer.
  • Estimate – Don’t fall for unrealistically low estimates and those given before the in-home inspection.
  • Upfront Payment – Cease communication with any individual that asks for any kind of upfront payment.
  • Ask for references – The best way to find a mover is through friends and family that have moved recently; if you don’t have any – check for online reviews.

That’s about it. Before you start packing, also make sure you know what items movers won’t move – it will come in handy, as well.

Young woman looking at relocation documents
The most important thing to check is if your mover has a license

What to Do If You Have Been Scammed by a Moving Company?

If the worst happens and you fall victim to a scam, there are still things you can do. But, before you escalate things any further, try filing a complaint with the mover itself – it might have been just a misunderstanding. If you have been massively overcharged or your things are being held hostage, it’s time to report. You can report your ‘mover’ to the Better Business Bureau and FMCSA.

You can also expose them on online networks and sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook – wherever they have a profile, or you can write a post on Reddit simply to help spread the word out. Taking them to court is your last option. With this one, don’t fail to consider the stress, time, and money you’ll need to spend. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it.

Court hammer for the judge
Think before you take things to court – it can end up being more of a hassle

What Is the Best Moving Company?

Now when you know how to stay away from the bad seeds let us introduce ourselves. We are reputable and affordable movers in Orange County, CA. We are licensed and insured, which you can check now that you know how to, and we are happy to enjoy the trust of our customers. We offer both residential relocation and commercial relocation services. If you don’t want to worry about the scammer or unprofessional companies – contact us, and you’ll be sure you’re dealing with the professionals up to any task.

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OC Moving Services has professional packers and movers that can help you out.