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International Moving Scams and Tips to Avoid Them

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International moves can take weeks or even months to complete, which could make it easier for dishonest moving companies to scam unsuspecting customers. It's much easier to lose track of your moving company or the status of your shipment when you are separated by an ocean, or to be fooled by unusually low quotes or sneaky sales tricks when you are inundated with the massive number of tasks associated with a complicated move abroad.

International Moving Scams and Tips to Avoid Them

However, with a little knowledge and awareness, you can easily protect yourself from scams by rogue international movers. Read on to find out more about some of the most common international moving scams and what you can do to prevent them.

Scam #1: Exceptionally low quotes

Rogue movers will often entice prospective customers with exceptionally low quotes. But then, after picking up your belongings, they will tack on an assortment of hidden fees that were never mentioned to the customer or included in their contract. When the customer sees the inflated bill and refuses to pay, the movers will refuse delivery and hold the shipment until the requested compensation is received.

How to avoid this moving scam

Always be skeptical of any movers promising a much lower quote than their competitors. You should always compare quotes from several movers and request in-home estimates from at least three companies to make an informed decision. You can begin comparing quotes from international movers right now at Movers.com!

Ask any mover you are considering hiring about the possibilities of hidden fees you may incur at delivery and then have them included in your contract. Do not allow yourself to be rushed when signing a contract, and always read the terms and conditions thoroughly. Be sure to ask about anything in the fine print that you don't understand. If they seem in a hurry or reluctant to answer your inquiries, they are likely a rogue mover trying to set up an international moving scam.

Scam #2: Items stolen or undelivered

A customer decides to use a broker to connect with international movers and finds a website that promises to supply an exceptionally low quote for a deposit or fee. Upon payment of the deposit, the customer either never hears from the broker again, the movers never show up to pick up the shipment, or the goods are never delivered to their destination country. Not only does the scammed customer lose the money paid as a deposit, but they possibly could have their belongings stolen as well.

How to avoid this moving scam

Never request a quote from any broker that asks for a deposit. You can receive up to seven quotes from reliable international movers at Movers.com completely free of charge. This way, you can easily compare costs from companies that have been pre-screened and are licensed and insured. Reputable brokers should not request payment in exchange for a quote.

Scam #3: Abrupt hike in prices

When speaking with a representative of the company, the customer is asked what his or her budget is for the move and then asked about the volume of their belongings. The rogue movers will then quote a price in the customer's desired range. However, upon arrival to pick up the shipment, the movers will claim that the customer's belongings are actually of greater volume than the customer estimated and hike the price up accordingly.

How to avoid this moving scam

The best way to prevent this type of international moving scam is to keep your budget undisclosed. Don't let the movers know how much you are willing to spend, and never hire a company based on an estimate over the phone. It's essential to have the movers come to your home to give you an accurate on-site estimate. You should ideally receive these estimates from at least three companies before choosing one to hire. You should also make sure that the person coming to give you the in-house estimate is from the moving company, not a broker.

Scam #4: Moving company using different names

Sometimes a moving company may not use their advertised name when you call them. This happens when the company is hiding its identity to dodge the IRS and unsatisfied customers. It's also possible that the movers shut down their operations and then re-opened their company under a new name to evade taxes or lawsuits.

How to avoid this moving scam

Whenever you approach a moving company make sure they have extensive experience in the moving industry. It's best to rely on international movers who have had an established business for a decade or more. It also helps to read online reviews about the company.

Scam #5: Demand for hefty deposits

Some rogue movers ask for more than 10 percent of the moving cost as a deposit for an international move. They may even make the customers sign an agreement that prevents them from asking for a refund. Many companies also use lengthy paperwork to manipulate the customers so that the company can keep their deposit.

How to avoid this moving scam

Ask your international mover questions whenever you have a doubt about their policies. Never oblige the company's request of paying more than 10 percent as a deposit. A reputed and reliable moving company will never force you to pay such a big deposit.

Scam #6: False promises by the mover

Some moving companies have an impressive website with appealing offers but then when the crew shows up for the job they may behave rudely and unprofessionally. Also, the quality of moving supplies may be different from what you were promised.

How to avoid this moving scam

To avoid such international moving scams, make sure that the company you are hiring for your relocation has received good feedback and reviews from other customers. Also, reputable movers will typically have proper uniforms for the crew while the trucks will be marked with the company name.

More tips to avoid international moving scams by rogue movers

If you are aware of your rights and responsibilities when moving abroad, you can easily avoid an international moving scam. Following these tips will help you deal with rogue movers:

  • Make sure they have proper licensing credentials: International movers are required to be licensed and registered to perform overseas relocation. The company should be registered with the Federal Maritime Commission and have an FMC number. This accreditation will ensure that the company is professional, reliable, and subject to regulation. Other reputable certifications include membership with the Fédération Internationalé des Déménageurs Internationaux (FIDI) and the Registered International Mover Certification (RIM) through the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).
  • Find out about their overseas partner: While one company will be responsible for loading and transporting your goods to the nearest port for shipping, another will be at your destination country to pick up your shipment. This is referred to as a Destination Agent. When receiving your quote from the Origin Agent (the company that handles the pickup of your goods) you should find out more about the company that will be handling your shipment once it arrives so you can check their background and references. You'll also be able to ask them any questions you have about the import duties and regulations in your destination country.
  • Ask about hidden costs: The costs of international moves are typically calculated by the volume and weight of your goods, but there are many other fees often associated with overseas relocation. Be sure to ask your mover for detailed information about anything and everything you will be charged for such as destination port fees, terminal handling charges, custom fees/duties, crating charges, custom inspection charges, customs clearance, delivery-to-door charges, packing materials, and extra fees for oddly-shaped or unusually heavy items.
  • Ask about their experience: To ensure that you are hiring a trustworthy and reliable overseas mover, you should inquire about their previous experience handling international relocation. You can even request references from satisfied customers to ensure that the company you have chosen is experienced and reputable.
  • Have all necessary documents: Having the proper documents will help prevent shipping scams during an international move. Double check whether the details in the Bill of Lading and the Order for Service match and are correctly mentioned. Don't lose such documents otherwise you might not even know if something goes wrong with the move.
  • Check the terms and conditions: Before signing any document, make sure that you don't rush through it. You should also check what you need to be reimbursed in case of damage or loss of shipment. And don't forget to ask them questions regarding the insurance coverage and filing claims if the company doesn't provide all this information on their own.
  • Take photos when shipping your vehicle: If you are shipping a car overseas, make sure that you take photographs, check the mileage, and take note of the existing scratches and dents on the vehicle before it's shipped.

When to pay the movers

Whether it's a local or international move, you should never have to pay a large deposit. Also, no reputable company will ask you to pay the amount upfront before the move is completed. Always pay the full amount only after the job is done. Also, paying with a credit card is safer as it will help you fight any fraudulent activity.

How to find reputable movers when moving abroad

To find an honest and professional international moving company there are many other important questions you should ask before enlisting their services. The more information you have, the less likely you will make common mistakes when moving abroad. Avoiding rogue movers is imperative to making sure your most prized possessions arrive safely in your new country.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on July 24, 2013

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