While most movers are trustworthy and honest, a few may want to steal. Yes, only if you let them steal your goods. Precautions can stop this.
Each year, Better Business Bureau (BBB) receives 13,000 complaints and bad reviews regarding movers, many describing how dishonest moving businesses have caused financial and emotional difficulties. Yes, this is a real thing!
Would movers steal personal documents?
No one will steal or damage your papers on purpose, but you never know when you might need them.
Movers can steal vulnerable documents that might fall you in trouble. You can take those essential documents like mortgage papers, bank statements, passports, driver’s licenses, medical records, school IDs, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc., in a briefcase and carry them on your own.
But here’s a story: An woman lost her lifelong treasures and filed a case against the moving company theft. She said, “It’s my entire life, I have no memories, not a picture, not a yearbook.”. Let’s find out what happened and how.
What Happened Next?
Stephanie Wagner, a lactation expert who is 45 years old, lost everything in what is thought to be a moving scam. She put away almost all of her stuff in December 2020 and hasn’t seen it since. Moving company scams, in which companies steal customers’ things or charge them extra fees, are becoming more common.
Wagner took the two moving companies to court to get her things back. The moving company she hired was supposed to move her stuff from New York to California, but instead, they held her things hostage until she paid them more money. She had to pay $10,000 to get back something, but she only got a small amount of what she had.
Understanding the depth of moving scams is crucial because thousands of individuals like Stephanie Wagner fall victim to dishonest moving companies every year. By shedding light on this issue, we aim to empower readers with knowledge to protect their belongings.
Moving scams are rising in the US, so this isn’t the only one. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the US Department of Transportation says that the number of complaints about moving companies has increased by 25% since 2022. Every year, 1390 moving scams cost Americans $2.1 million.
What Are The Ways Movers Will Steal From You?
Movers steal by altering boxes, mixing items, switching items, and falsifying inventories. Let’s check their most common tactics and how to avoid them.
- Theft during packing: This is when the movers pack your belongings for you and sneak some valuables into their boxes or bags. They may do this while you are not looking or distracted by something else.
To prevent this, you should always supervise the packing process and check every box or bag before it is sealed. You can also label your boxes with your name and a brief description of the contents.
- Mixing items with other shipments: Movers do this by loading your items onto a truck containing other people’s belongings. They may then claim that some of your things belong to someone else and take them away.
To prevent this, you should always ask for a separate truck for your shipment and inspect the truck before and after loading. You can also take photos of your items and compare them with the inventory list.
- Tampering with sealed boxes: Movers can tamper the sealed boxes when you’re distracted, as I mentioned before. They may reseal and glue the boxes to look like it was back. It can be frustrating when movers open your sealed boxes after loading them onto the truck and take out some of your items.
Jane Smith, a recent mover who is my current neighbor, shared her experience with me. She noticed that movers had tampered with her sealed boxes during transit, leading to the loss of valuable items. Jane’s experience highlights the need for vigilance during the entire moving process.
But you can prevent this. You can use good boxes and tape and sign or put a unique symbol on each one. You can also check for signs of tampering by weighing your boxes before and after filling them.
- Switching items during transit: You’re worried about getting swapped your valuable things with cheaper or broken ones while they’re in transit. You should always contact a reputable moving company that provides GPS tracking and insurance.
You can also request a delivery confirmation and check your things when they arrive. This way, you can be sure items won’t get broken or lost while moving.
- Fake inventory documentation: Always be prepared for the worst. Keeping this in mind, make an inventory list before movers load your things on their trucks. Movers might have lost or broken some of your valuable assets, and if you don’t have the proper list of your items, they might lie with fake inventory documentation.
You can also ask to see the mover’s license and proof of insurance. So you can ensure your things are safe and accounted for during the move.
- Accessing unattended storage units: Your movers may do evil things to your goods. One of them is they may open and access the boxes you had packed up. And take some of your items without your knowledge. They may do this while you are waiting for your new home to be ready or out of town.
You can prevent this too! You need to be careful while moving. And ensure enough security facilities like locks and secured boxes. Use surveillance cameras if possible. Visit your storage unit regularly and check for any signs of theft.
Can you sue a moving company for theft?
Yes, only if they had broken the agreement. If the mover violates their contract, you may have a case. If they broke your stuff, you might be able to sue to get your money back. And if they hurt you, you might be able to sue them for compensation.
Moving companies can be sued in small claims court for various reasons. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- A moving company damaged your personal property while transporting it.
- A moving company did not show up on the date of your move.
- A moving company overcharged you on the date of delivery.
- A moving company failure to deliver them to the new location.
- A moving company provided you with a quote, but the quote includes hidden fees.
What to do if a moving company steals from you?
If movers stole from you, contact the moving company, police, and insurance providers to report the theft. Take these actions instantly.
- Contact the moving company: Call your moving company immediately if you notice something fishy. Tell them what happened and ask them to take proper action. Double-check the stuff before you make the call. Since the things were not in the correct order or place, you might have missed seeing that one thing.
- Document the theft: You’ve lost your things. But before you want to reclaim them, you must list your items. Show a document of ownership, like shopping receipts or any photos taken.
- Get an estimate for the value of your stolen belongings: Get an estimate of the worth of the lost things with the assistance of industry professionals and the legal system if the precious items you own are covered under your insurance policy.
- Contact the police: At this point, you’re confident your moving company is theft. Rush to the nearest police station or call the emergency number 911. Provide them with all the necessary details and cooperate with them.
- Contact your insurance company: You should let your insurance company know that they were stolen if you’re under the coverage of an insurance policy. Give them all the information they need, like the police record and a list of stolen things. Just do what they say to do to file a claim.
- Take legal action: Your moving company hasn’t responded as you wanted. Now it’s high time to take legal action against the company. Do consult with an attorney who has specialized in property theft or contract law. Discuss thoroughly and make a good understanding between you both.
During my own recent move, I encountered a situation where a mover mishandled fragile items. When I tried to make a query, he surprisingly misbehaved! This firsthand experience taught me the importance of thorough research before hiring a moving company. Afterward, I considered complaining and took legal action.
Don’t forget to keep all the documents and evidence safe when you’re filing any complaint. If you lose any essential document, it might backfire and fall you in trouble.
How to Report Moving Company Theft to the Appropriate Organization?
If you support reporting mismanagements but any moving company, taking the necessary steps in the right direction is the key. Here’s how you can report moving company theft to the authorities.
- Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMCSA): You can call the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at 1-888-368-7238 to tell them about the theft. Give them detailed information about what happened, like the moving company’s name, the date it happened, and any proof you have. Interstate movers are regulated by the FMCSA, which will start a probe based on your information.
- Your State’s Attorney General’s Office: You can also call the attorney general’s office in your state. Find their contact information on the government page for your state and let them know what’s going on. If you give them all the necessary information, they can tell you what steps to take and may even take the situation further.
- American Trucking Association (ATA): Contact the American Trucking Association (ATA). They are a transportation organization and may be interested in hearing about dishonest moving company. Visit the ATA’s website to contact them and explain what happened.
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB): Call 1-800-555-1212 to contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Tell them about the theft and give them all the information they need about the moving company. The BBB will write down your complaint, look into it, and help you and the moving company find a solution.
People Also Asked
How common is it for movers to take items?
It only happens sometimes. In many of your stories, people needed to study more to ensure they worked with an honest company. The number of times a mover steals from a job is between 5 and 10 per year.
Most movers think of their stuff as freight, so they just load it up and leave it until it’s time to unload it
Are boxes marked high value stolen more frequently by movers?
Yes, because you mark it that way when it is worth more than others.
You could have kept the boxes with your valuable gold or old things worth more than a standard cutlery set and marked them higher. Most of the time, people steal gold and watches. When you move out, put them somewhere safe.
Not all movers steal, as Stephanie Wagner discovered. FMCSA is monitoring these escalating moving business theft charges. Customers need to research more before hiring anyone. These tips make moving easy. You may want your landlord to return your full deposit.