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Planning to Move? Don't Get Scammed

Christine DiGangi

You give up a lot of information when you’re planning to move (like a Social Security number for a tenant credit check), so it’s important to protect yourself from scammers.

While a change of scenery can be fun and exciting, it can also be hectic and expensive. It’s smart to search for ways to save money when relocating (here’s a list of things to consider), but don’t let your quest for a deal compromise good judgment. Con artists look at your move as their meal ticket.

The Better Business Bureau, in collaboration with with the American Moving & Storage Association, has published an advisory warning consumers about scams that crop up during peak moving times.

Ask the Right Questions

When you’re moving all your possessions, do your due diligence in choosing the people who help you, and try to see past too-good-to-be-true price points. Researching moving services isn’t going to be the most thrilling thing you do today, but try and think long term: Would you rather spend time finding the best movers or trying to deal with damaged items, unexpected bills or poor customer service?

Those are common issues. Last year, the BBB received more than 9,300 complaints against movers in the U.S., including damaged or missing belongings, late deliveries, extremely inaccurate price estimates and items being held for ransom (like additional payment).

Shop around for reputable movers and request estimates in writing, the organizations advise.

“A con artist with just a truck and a website can claim to be a legitimate mover with unfortunate results for consumers who don’t check out a company in advance,” AMSA president and CEO Linda Bauer Darr is quoted as saying on the BBB’s website.

Prepare for Problems

When enlisting the help of movers, you should know your rights and responsibilities. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a handy moving checklist (among other resources) to help you navigate the process — if something goes wrong, you’ll want to react quickly and appropriately.

You may also want to consider purchasing full value protection for your possessions, the organizations suggest. It costs more (the Transportation Department puts it at about $8.50 per $1,000 of declared value of items being moved), but it requires the movers to repair, replace or give you cash for damaged or lost items. Generally, moving insurance does not require a credit check, but make sure to confirm this before you apply. If there is a credit check, it will create an inquiry that could affect your credit score — you can find out more about how inquiries affect your credit here.

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