People reporting scams in peak moving season: BBB Washington

Washingtonians have reported more than 120 complaints from movers so far this year. People reported losing more than $730,000 trying to move to the US in 2021.

KENT, Wash. — “Relocation season” is about half over, and more than 120 relocation-related complaints have been reported about companies’ business profiles so far in 2022, according to the Better Business Bureau of Washington (BBB).

Last year, the BBB Scam Tracker revealed that consumers reported losing more than $730,000 to moving scams, a 216% increase in money lost compared to 2020.

Jordan River Moving & Storage in Kent told KING 5 that it has repeatedly helped people moving in and out of Washington state who said they were caught up in a moving scam. The company recently relocated its headquarters from Kirkland to Kent.

According to Sharon Joseph, managing director of Jordan River Moving & Storage, an important red flag is when a mover tries to charge by volume, cubic feet or a list of items.

“Stop it,” said Joseph. “Don’t fall for it. Hang up the phone, you are in the hands of a scammer. Stay away from them.”

Joseph said consumers need to do extensive research about the company or service they want to use. He said to use a local company whenever possible. Joseph said he would like more enforcement when it comes to scammers hijacking people’s property and then trying to get thousands of dollars in exchange for releasing the items.

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“People think it’s just moving, but the truck contains people’s lives, everything they have,” Joseph said. “You have to start over because these movers keep their stuff and don’t deliver it. Or some people can’t afford the blackmail these companies are asking for.”

Joseph said scammers don’t just take people’s belongings hostage or sell them in storage units — they also target company movers to get replacement parts because of supply shortages.

Thanks to multiple van and truck tracking devices used by Jordan River Moving & Storage, Joseph said his team worked with Aurora, Colorado police to recover a truck that was moving off-road. Joseph said his driver woke up one morning while driving to find the truck gone.

“We tracked down the truck. We gave them the exact location of the truck. SWAT came over and they called us to make sure it really was the truck that was stolen because they saw people starting to unload the truck,” Joseph said. “We managed to recover all the items and the truck, but not only that – this storage unit, they found other customers’ belongings stolen.”

Like Joseph, the BBB of Washington recommends consumers do their research before paying any money or signing any contract with a mover

BBB Relocation Booking Reminders:

  • Watch out for warning signs. If checking a company’s website doesn’t have an address or information about a moving company’s registration or insurance, it’s a sign that they may not have the right policies in place to protect a consumer’s property. Additionally, if the carrier uses a hired truck or offers a quote over the phone before conducting an on-site inspection, it may not be a legitimate business.
  • Be wary of unusual requests. When a mover asks for a large down payment or a full upfront payment, it can be an indication of a fraudulent deal. If someone’s property is being held hostage for an additional payment not agreed upon when the contract was signed, contact BBB or your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • Get everything in writing. When If you’re moving between states, check the license with the US Department of Transportation. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued identification number is required for all interstate movers, which can be verified at Protect Your Move. Read the terms of the contract and the limitations of liability and any exclusions of liability carefully. The collection and estimated delivery date should be easily recognizable.
  • Keep an inventory of your belongings. An inventory sheet is one of the best ways to keep track of your possessions. BBB encourages consumers who are moving to label the boxes their items are packed in and what is in each box. As a general rule, movers are not responsible for lost or damaged contents in boxes packed by customers, unless there is evidence of negligence on the part of the mover. Photographing the contents before packing is a good way to show if there was any damage during the move.
  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. If the moving company can’t or won’t answer your questions, look for another company. Trust is important when hiring a moving company. People reporting scams in peak moving season: BBB Washington

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