26 Jan MOVING SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
Here we are in February of 2022! Although February may be short (only 28 days), it’s quite a busy month with three holidays to celebrate — Ground Hog’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. On Ground Hog’s Day, February 2nd, we’ll see whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. If he does, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, we’ll move into an early spring! But whether or not we collectively move into spring early this year, many of us will be doing a different kind of moving. We’ll be moving our lives and homes from one location to another. This is no small task. In fact, it’s downright stressful! So, if you’re planning on moving any time soon, here are some important tips to help you cut down on stress AND help you steer clear of “moving scammers” who might be looking to cash in on your relocation plans!
WHAT IS A MOVING SCAM?
There are lots of different ways scammers try to take advantage of seniors when they’re making a move, but one of the most common moving scams is what federal regulators call “hostage loads.” (A)(B) That’s where you’ve signed a contract with a mover who is supposed to pick up your household goods and deliver them to your new location, BUT – many months down the road, your household goods are either a) nowhere to be found, or b) when they are delivered, the price of the move has gone up exponentially, and the movers won’t unload your belongings unless you pay them in cash! Sounds like something out of a bad “Grade B” movie, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not. Sadly, a dear of friend of mine was the victim of a moving scam like this. She lost a lot of money when she moved from the West Coast to the East Coast last year. The moving company quoted her an estimated cost of $4,000 for the move. However, when they finally arrived with her clothing, furniture, etc. – 6 months later! – the cost had risen to $10,000. And the moving company would not unload her belongings until she paid them $10,000 in CASH. In essence, this moving company held my friend hostage. In order to receive what was rightfully hers, she had to pay an extra $6,000 (in cash). — No matter how you slice it, this is WRONG.
HOW TO AVOID MOVING SCAMS
To make sure you are working with a legitimate moving company, use these guidelines and look out for red flags. (A)(B)
- According to the Washington Post (B), “The Better Business Bureau [BBB] receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews about movers each year. More than 1,300 moving companies have an “F” rating from the bureau due to unresolved or unanswered complaints.” Contact the BBB to find out what rating a moving company has. https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/category/moving-companies/accredited
- Get a written estimate of how much the move will cost from several different moving companies. The written estimates should be based on an in-person inspection of your household goods.
- Make sure the moving company is insured and federally registered. Check here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/search-mover?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ar-fy21pym&utm_content=pre&gclid=CjwKCAj
- In a non-binding estimate, the law requires movers to deliver your household goods for no more than 10% above the price. Keep this in mind.
- Be sure to do your homework. Read “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” The law requires that a mover give you this booklet if you are moving from one state to another. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Rights-and-Responsibilities-2013.pdf
- RED FLAGS
- A moving company website does not provide a local address, insurance or registration info.
- When calling the moving company, the person answering the phone says “Movers” or “Moving Company” rather than giving a company name.
- The moving company only gives “online” or “phone” estimates, rather than estimates based on in-person inspections of your household goods.
- The moving company requires cash or a large deposit up front, before the move.
- Movers show up at your house with a rental truck, not a company-branded truck.
- Movers require you to sign blank pages, or incomplete forms, and they will fill them out later.
- Once the movers have your possessions, they demand more money!
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE THE VICTIM OF A MOVING SCAM
If you believe you may have been scammed by a moving company, here’s what you can do. (C)(D)
- First, consider trying to resolve the issue with the moving company. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint.
- The most important thing you can do if you believe you’ve been scammed by a moving company, is to REPORT it to the authorities. It’s never too late to report a scam! Reporting it will help not only you, but it will help other people. Remember: Reporting scams helps law enforcement track down criminals! Here’s where to file complaints regarding a moving company or broker —
- The Better Business Bureau online at https://www.bbb.org/file-a-complaint/search.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) National Consumer Complaint Database online at https://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/nccdb/home.aspx, or toll-free at: 1-888-368-7238.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at
- Online OIG Hotline Complaint Form at https://www.oig.dot.gov/fraud-hotline
- Call toll free 1-800-424-9071
- Email to email@example.com
- Mail to: DOT Inspector General, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Bldg 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20590
NOTE: I’m planning on doing a follow-up article on moving scams later this year. Please feel free to share any experiences you may have had with moving scammers. You can write to me at “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Together, we can Stop Senior Scams!
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
If you believe you have been the target or victim of a of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud, contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080. If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, you may also report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM CONTINUES VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING
SSSAP continues virtual programs, and we are now booking in-person programs for 2022. Please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com for more info, or if your organization would like to host our program.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE
Please go to the SSSAP YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA to see our new videos. If you subscribe (free of charge), you will be notified when new videos are released. Together we can Stop Senior Scams! Here are links to two of our most recent videos: “The Top Senior Scams with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg, and “Robocalls, Mail Fraud and Merlin with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=186s.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com.