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From the Better Business Bureau - May is National Moving Month: Do you know the signs of a scam?
By Guest Columnist Kelvin Collins

MACON - May is National Moving Month. This is typically the busiest month of the year for changing residences. Whether it is going away for college, coming home from college or changing locations while school is out for the summer, many people use the month of May to pack up their belonging and change their address. The BBB wants you to know the tactics and signs of a moving scam so that you can better protect yourself from becoming a victim.

There are thousands of reputable movers that can ensure that your move goes off without a hitch but below are some common tactics used by disreputable movers:

· A disreputable mover provides you with an estimate, only to add on extras once they have your belongings in their possession. Their estimate is not valid, and they can tack on as many additional costs as they’d like. If you want your furniture back, you have to give in and pay the additional cost.

· A disreputable mover will provide you with an estimate for the cost of your move, and then change the arranged deal at the last minute. They will sell you on a low price, but in the end, the cost of your move ends up being double or triple to what you agreed to.

· A disreputable mover will add on additional charges based on unfounded reasons, such as giving you an estimate based on weight, but after your valuables are on their truck, they charge you extra claiming the cubic feet have exceeded the weight estimate. Since this is impossible to calculate, you’re stuck paying the fees or giving up your goods. Other charges include saying that packing wasn’t included in the price or charging more because your items weren’t completely packed.

· A disreputable mover will pack your items and promise to deliver your belongings on-time. Then they call saying your belongings are in the back of a truck behind two other people's belongings, so you can’t receive your items until theirs is delivered first. Or, if the mover has a licensing violation and their truck is impounded, your valuables are stuck on board until the truck is released.

· A disreputable mover will take your money, load their truck with your belongings, then close up shop and flee, abandoning your shipment either on the truck or in a private storage facility. This scam allows the mover to take off with your money and your belongings.

Here are some tips to avoid a moving scam:

· Don't Fall for a Front Company: Double check that the mover has a real address and is not just a scam artist representing a reputable moving business. Be sure the mover has listed the brick-and-mortar address on its website and that the salesperson actually works for that company.

· Don't Give a Deposit: A mover that demands a cash deposit upfront will likely take your money and run. If a mover demands a cash deposit, move on to a different business.

· Don't Pay Cash or Wire Transfer: A wire transfer is typically not traceable and when you pay cash, there is no evidence of a transaction. If your belongings aren't moved or you don't get them back, you have no evidence of ever having paid for the service.

· Look for a Branded Truck: Real moving businesses have real moving trucks, complete with branding and logos. To make sure scam artists don't drive off with your belongings, check the truck for a logo.

· Do Not Sign a Partial Contract: Make sure the contract is complete and all filled in before signing anything. Make sure the contract is more than two pages and includes all of your goods.

· Consider getting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost, for example, of a flat panel TV if damaged in transit.

Finally, research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website, www.protectyourmove.gov. Also check the company's rating at BBB.org, which maintains more than 17,000 Business Reviews on movers across North America.

For more trustworthy consumer tips, please visit BBB/org.

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Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA, Inc. serving 41 counties in Central Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Web site: www.BBB.org or E-mail: info@centralgeorgia.bbb.org or info@csra.bbb.org.

Submitted 4.26.19
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