If you’ve found yourself inundated with unwanted phone calls and emails, you understand just how prevalent scams have become. What you may not realize is that even when you contact a company yourself, it could still be a scam.
Moving company scams are increasingly common. Companies will often have an online-only presence and give you a low quote without ever seeing your goods. They may then demand more money – and even hold your stuff hostage until you pay them.
The Lopez Law Group advocates for consumers throughout the Tampa-St. Petersburg region. If your moving company lost, damaged, stole your stuff – or otherwise scammed you – we can help. Reach out today to schedule an appointment with our moving company disputes lawyers.
How a Florida Grandmother Almost Lost Everything She Owned
Recently, a woman moved from the Boston area to Port Orange, Florida to be closer to her daughter. She searched online for moving companies and found one that offered a good price. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that the company in question wasn’t a moving company – but a broker that books and then sells the move to another business.
When agents from another company showed up at her house, they asked for more money. She ultimately agreed to it and signed some paperwork. The company told her that she would have her belongings in about a week, but what she didn’t realize is that the contract stated that the company could put her items in storage and deliver them “ASAP.”
The woman waited to receive her goods. Eventually, she got a call from a man who said that he was ready to drop off her things. The man had been hired off of Craigslist to do the move – and didn’t have an ID or any tools. He also demanded more money. When the woman refused, the man took off – and still doesn’t have her belongings.
Attorney Sean Lopez noted that this type of nightmare scenario is becoming increasingly common. While he isn’t involved in this case, he noted that he has had clients who have lost all of their belongings – and the moving company offers less than $1,000 to resolve the dispute. He advises Floridians to know who they’re working with and what they are signing before they agree to anything related to a move.
What You Can Do to Avoid Being Scammed
It can be hard to figure out when a moving company isn’t legitimate – and when you might be at risk of losing anything. These tips from the Department of Transportation (DOT) can help you avoid being a victim of a moving company scam.
First, get a written estimate from several movers. This estimate should be based on an actual inspection of what needs to be moved. If one company is offering a price that is far below the other estimates – or doesn’t come out to take a look at your stuff – then it’s probably a scam.
Second, make sure that the mover is registered with the Department of Transportation and is insured. You can check a mover’s registration through the DOT website if it is an interstate carrier (moving goods from one state to another).
Third, learn your rights when it comes to moving company disputes. The DOT website linked above is a good resource about what you can do if your goods are lost or damaged. For interstate moves, the moving company must provide you with this information.
Fourth, carefully read documents before you sign them. In the case above, the woman didn’t realize that she had signed an agreement that did not guarantee that her items would be delivered by any particular date. If you don’t understand the terms, you can reach out to a moving company dispute attorney.
Finally, if a problem arises, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Federal law governs interstate moves – and you may be able to take legal action against the moving company if they lost, damaged, stole, or held your items hostage. A moving company dispute lawyer can help to ensure that you get the money that you deserve for your losses – not whatever small amount the moving company may offer to resolve your claim.
How the Lopez Law Group Can Help
Moving is already stressful enough without worrying about being scammed. There are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of a problem. If you do find yourself in a bad situation with an interstate move, our law firm will advocate for your rights.
Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Lopez Law Group represents clients throughout Florida in moving company disputes. We understand the laws covering these types of issues and put our experience to work to advocate for our clients. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, give us a call at 727-933-0015, text us at 727-370-9157, or fill out our online contact form.