Most members of the general public don’t deal with commercial truck drivers on a regular basis, which means they generally aren’t familiar with carrier companies, truck drivers, or the rules that govern the trucking industry, says New Jersey truck accident lawyer Rand Spear.
If you hire a moving company, however, chances are you will hire at least one large truck. In some cases, such as a cross-country move, you might even need a semi-truck to transport all of your household items.
According to a Newsweek report1, moving fraud is a million-dollar industry all its own. In the worst cases, moving companies show up with a truck, pack up a customer’s belongings, and take them to a holding area unknown to the customer. When the customer calls to ask why their items have not been delivered, the moving company invents extra fees or charges — in essence, holding the customer’s property “hostage” until the customer agrees to pay inflated prices.
In other cases, the truck drivers have bad driving records or aren’t properly licensed. Moving companies have been shut down2 for employing drivers who fail drug and alcohol screenings. The problem has become so widespread, the National Consumers League3 has launched an online resource for people preparing to move.
Tips to Avoid Being Scammed by a Moving Company
The National Consumers League recommends the following steps when looking for a company to help you with your move.
- Get a binding estimate. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re going to pay, and get the company to commit to it in writing. The estimate should include an in-person visit from a representative of the moving company to get an accurate idea of what is being moved.
- Don’t sign an incomplete estimate. Wait until your estimate is signed by both you and the moving company before making any payments toward the moving company’s services.
- Avoid cash payments. The National Consumers League suggests paying by check or credit card so you can dispute the charge if the company attempts to scam you.
- Watch out for “phantom” movers. Be suspicious of a bait-and-switch technique fraudulent movers sometimes try to use. It works like this: You contract with a company, but a plain, unmarked truck shows up on moving day with movers dressed in street clothes. This could be a sign of a moving scam.
Philadelphia truck accident lawyer Rand Spear says, “Interstate movers are also required to register with the federal government — specifically, the Department of Transportation. Before you enter into a contract with any interstate moving company, check to make sure it is properly registered.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) includes a search tool4 on its website.
Irresponsible moving companies that hire unqualified drivers endanger everyone on the road. In addition to putting consumers’ personal property in jeopardy, they put other motorists at risk of being involved in a serious accident.
To discuss your truck or traffic accident case with a knowledgeable Philadelphia and New Jersey truck accident lawyer, call Rand Spear today at 888-373-4LAW.
1 Newsweek Report: http://www.newsweek.com/moving-movers-fraud-scams-congress-encore-moving-california-americas-best-529840
2 Shut Down NBC Miami: http://www.nbcmiami.com/investigations/Feds-Shut-Down-Coconut-Creek-Mover-Citing-Safety-Violations-333095541.html
3 National Consumers League: http://www.fraud.org/shady_movers_alert
4 FMCSA Search Tool: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/select-mover
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