The scamming industry is about as good as the moving industry. You will find just as many capable liars as there are capable movers. You will want to know how to tell them apart so that you don’t get anxiety attacks when the man and van team arrive to help and not to steal from you. People start to panic when they hear news about people being scammed by thieves pretending to work for a moving company and that makes the move twice as harder than it should be. But you need not panic. What you need to do is prepare.
Here are ten ways to avoid being scammed:
1. Always be there.
Some people trust their neighbours, or a friend to meet the man with van and help them load the moving boxes because they want to be at the new address, preparing for the arrival. This can be a big mistake, especially if your friend or neighbour has never dealt with your removal company of choice. If you know your movers, you should be there to prevent strangers being in charge of taking your things.
2. Confirm addresses and arrivals.
People usually call their companies several times before moving day to confirm the address of arrival and the time of the service. Do the same. If you know the exact time, then you know exactly when to expect the legit movers. If the movers are early or late – both are important, - you should call the customer service and ask to be sure that whoever is coming – or will come – is the real deal.
3. Visit the office...
Make sure you visit the office of your removal company at least once. That way you will know how the logo looks like. You will know how the movers are dressed and you will know what to look for. You will know if the company is legit and when the team do arrive, you can ask misleading questions to see if they know their own office (which, of course, they should). Information is power, as many TV shows and movies will tell you, and you will see why when you use it.
4. ... and ask for documentation.
Also, sometimes the entire moving company is a scam. You can quickly cross that doubt if you ask for documentation while you are in the office. Look for legal papers and ask for details about their insurance company – after all, every removal service should have its insurance company backing it up in case of accidents. Be as thorough as you can be to avoid any future problems.
5. Have the moving company call you on arrival.
You can also be dynamic with the security. Ask the customer service to call you when the movers arrive. That way you will know that the people who are parking in your driveway are those they will claim to be. Even if the man with a van team are fake, the customer service should know where the real one is and when they are coming.
6. Ask for identification.
And when the team arrive, you can actually ask them to identify themselves. Identification is a powerful defence against scams. Many people simply accept the fact that if a removal van stops by their house, and a mover comes out, then it is obviously the mover they need. But everything can be faked, so do ask for identification, and if you are still doubtful, call the company and ask them to identify the name on the ID card so that you can be sure. It’s paranoid, but it ultimately works.
7. Check for uniforms and logos.
Sometimes the scammers don’t put in much effort and apart from timing and sleekness, they forget basic things, like a logo on the uniform, or the uniform itself. Check the uniform of whoever arrives for signs that they are working for the company you hired for the job. There can be many tells, so be vigilant.
8. Learn the ‘man with van lingo’.
Movers use lingo. Every service industry has its own lingo and specific terms they use. You can make some time to learn some of the lingo of moving companies and get familiar with words like ‘removals’, ‘removalists’, ‘man with van’, ‘accessorial changes’, ‘in house’, and so on, and use them in a conversation with the people who arrive to move you. If they seem baffled by whatever you say, do call the customer service to share your doubts about them being actual employees of the company.
9. Use a reliable estate agent.
In many cases the theft starts with your realtor. There are estate agents who find you a nice new house, but then organise a thorough scam to steal your belongings through a made up removal company. Whenever the estate agent tells you that he or she can take care of the planning for the move and will find a ‘reliable company for the job’, you should get suspicious. Either inquire about the company and find out they are the real thing, or decline and organise the move yourself.
10. DIY moving.
And, as a last case scenario, if the move is not on that grand of a scale, you can handle it yourself. No need for a full man and a van if you can simply get a moving van – get one not associated with a moving company, even – and carry out your own move. You pick the date, you do the packing, you do the moving, and the legitimacy of the move will be entirely in your hands. After all, there is nobody you should trust more than yourself.
With a little planning and awareness, you can save yourself the trouble of being worried about such scams. You should be able to recognise problematic movers quickly. Use these ten tips and the move you will undergo should be as safe as possible. It’s all up to you.