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States With the Highest Moving Scams

Article posted by on May 31, 2024

Moving can be stressful, especially when dealing with scams. States with large populations and frequent relocations are more prone to these scams. Scammers target these busy markets, which is why it’s important for you to stay informed. In this article, MovingScam.com will explain which states have the most scams, common scam tactics, and how to spot potential scams. Understanding these risks helps you protect yourself and leads to a hassle-free move. We’ll also provide practical tips to avoid falling victim to scams, such as verifying moving companies and recognizing red flags. Staying informed and cautious can save you from a lot of trouble during your move.

Top States with the Most Moving Scams

Some states experience more moving scams than others due to several factors, including high population density and frequent moves. Based on recent data, the states with the highest number of moving scams are Florida, California, and New York.

Florida

Florida tops the list for moving scams. This state sees a lot of moves due to its attractive climate and large population of retirees. The high volume of moves provides ample opportunities for scammers. In 2023, Florida had 1,871 complaints out of the 3,907 reported nationwide. Many scams involved companies demanding extra fees or holding belongings hostage. Florida’s rapid population growth also contributes to the problem, as many new residents are unfamiliar with local moving companies and fall victim to fraud​. In addition, legal actions have been taken against fraudulent movers, with the Florida Attorney General’s office recovering $27 million in fines and restitution from scammers​​.

letter blocks spelling out "scam"

Beware of states with the highest moving scams, including Florida, California, and New York.

California

California also ranks high for moving scams. With its large population and many people relocating both in and out of the state, scammers find plenty of targets. High living costs and frequent job-related moves make residents vulnerable to fraudulent movers who use tactics like bait-and-switch estimates and demanding large deposits upfront​. In California, scammers often exploit the state’s vast geography. This makes it harder for victims to track down their belongings once they are taken.

New York

New York’s dense population and constant flow of new residents contribute to its high rate of moving scams. Many scams here involve movers providing low estimates and then increasing the cost once belongings are loaded, which leaves customers with little choice but to pay the higher fee. New York also faces issues with moving companies that fail to deliver items or hold them hostage, demanding additional payments. Living in the city and frequent moves can make you a target for these scams.

Common Moving Scam Tactics

Scammers use a variety of tactics to exploit individuals during the moving process. Knowing these common scams can help you avoid becoming a victim.

Bait-and-Switch Estimates

Scammers lure you in with a low estimate. Once they have your belongings, they increase the price significantly. This often happens when the estimate is provided without a proper in-home inspection. The initial quote seems attractive, but the final bill can be two or three times higher. Always insist on an in-home inspection to get a more accurate estimate.

Holding Goods Hostage

After loading your belongings, the moving company refuses to deliver them until you pay an additional, often very high fee. This is known as a “hostage load” scam. Scammers know you need your items, so they exploit this urgency. To avoid this, make sure the contract includes a delivery date and detailed cost breakdown.

man using a laptop researching the states with the highest moving scams

Research moving companies thoroughly to avoid common scams like bait-and-switch estimates and phantom deliveries.

Large Deposits

Some fraudulent movers demand large deposits before the move and then disappear with the money. Legitimate moving companies typically request payment upon delivery, not before. If a company asks for more than a small deposit upfront, this is a red flag. Using a credit card for any deposits can provide some protection, as you can dispute fraudulent charges.

Phantom Delivery

In this scam, movers take your belongings but never deliver them. They may demand more money, claiming your items are on their way, but you never see your possessions again. To avoid this, choose companies that offer tracking of your shipment and ask for a detailed contract specifying delivery dates and penalties for delays.

Insurance Frauds

Movers may offer fake or inadequate insurance. When items are lost or damaged, they refuse to cover the losses. Always verify the insurance policy the mover provides. Consider purchasing additional insurance from a reputable third-party provider to ensure your belongings are properly covered.

Warning Signs of Moving Scams

Being aware of the warning signs can help you avoid falling victim to moving scams. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Lack of Physical Address: If a moving company does not have a physical address or lists only a P.O. Box, this is a major red flag. Legitimate companies will have a verifiable address. Scammers often use temporary or fake addresses to avoid being tracked down. Always verify the address by visiting the location if possible.
  • Poor Reviews: Check online reviews and ratings on websites like the Better Business Bureau and other review platforms. Numerous complaints or low ratings can indicate a scam. Consistently bad reviews, especially mentioning similar issues, are a strong indicator of a scam. Look for reviews that mention hidden fees, damaged items, or unprofessional behavior.
  • Upfront Payments: Be wary of movers who demand large upfront payments. Most reputable movers will not require significant deposits before completing the move. Scammers often ask for a big deposit and then disappear or provide poor service. Always use a credit card for deposits so you can dispute the charges if necessary.
  • Unmarked Trucks: Legitimate moving companies will have branded trucks. If movers show up in unmarked trucks, this could indicate a scam. Unmarked trucks can make it easier for scammers to disappear with your belongings. Always check that the truck has the company’s logo and contact information displayed.
  • No On-Site Inspection: A trustworthy moving company will conduct an on-site inspection before giving an estimate. Estimates given over the phone or online without seeing your items are often inaccurate and a potential sign of a scam. Scammers use low estimates to lure customers in, then increase the price dramatically once they have your belongings.
person counting dollar bills

Watch out for large upfront payments and unmarked trucks to avoid moving scams.

Stay Safe in States with the Highest Moving Scams

States with the highest moving scams include Florida, California, and New York. Moving scams can cause significant stress and financial loss. To protect yourself, always research moving companies thoroughly. Check their licensing and insurance, and read customer reviews. Watch for warning signs like lowball estimates, demands for large deposits, and lack of a physical address. Staying informed and cautious will help you avoid falling victim to these scams. Taking the time to do proper research can lead to a safe and worry-free moving experience. Stay alert and protect your belongings during your move.

Resources:

  • https://www.wftv.com/news/local/florida-leading-country-reports-so-called-moving-scams-new-data-shows/QHFABMWMZFCVNJO3VZMXZTGMJI/
  • https://www.hireahelper.com/moving-statistics/moving-scams/
  • https://baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2023/04/17/moving-scams-on-the-rise