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Protect yourself from moving scams

A couple lifting an armchair during a house move.
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Are you worried about fraud during your move?

We should say right at the start that the vast majority of removals firms are professional, reliable and trustworthy. But as with every profession there are a few bad apples. How can you spot dodgy removals firms to ensure you give them a swerve when planning your move?

How do removal scams work?

A fraudulent removals company might make you pay all or part of the fee up front and then not turn up on the day. Or they might quote a low price to secure the booking; and then on moving day they hike the price. Since most house moves need to take place within a tight time frame, you’ve got no choice but to pay the extra.

Theft may also be a problem if you have a scammy removals company – but that’s a topic for another blogpost.

How to spot a dishonest removal company

A bit of research before you even ask for a quote can save you a lot of bother. We have a blogpost about choosing a removals company with a few more ideas, too.

What removals trade organisations can you trust?

The first thing to check is whether your chosen company belongs to either the British Association of Removers or the National Guild of Removers and Storers (NGRS). These two trade associations both have directories, and their members are bound by codes of practice that should protect you, their customer.

Check online reviews for your chosen removal company

Online reviews will give you a good idea of whether a company has a bad reputation. You can also Google the company name followed by ‘scam’ or ‘theft’ to see if anyone has shared a bad experience online. Even better would be a recommendation from someone you know.

Check their website to see how long the company has been operating. Reputable removals organisations will have a physical address on their website, which you can also check with a drive-past.

Look at how the company behaves when quoting and surveying your move

The way a removals company treats you when doing an estimate will tell you a lot about how they will treat you on moving day. Do they turn up on time for the survey? Are they respectful of your home and of your time? Do they look carefully around so they can accurately assess how much work is involved in the move? A good mover will ask questions about what you have in your attic and will prompt you about items in outbuildings and garages. They will also ask questions about your new home – for example, they will want to know about access problems and parking.

It is to your advantage to give the person doing the removal survey all the information they ask for. And make sure you know what services the company offers. Ask about packing and find out who will supply the materials.

Protect yourself from moving scams by getting quotes

Get written quotes from at least three different removals companies so that you can compare prices. If one quote is very low, ask questions. It is possible that this company has missed some detail (an attic full of stuff, or the fact that your new home is a third-floor flat with no lift). Or it could be that they are trying to tempt you with an offer that is too good to be true.

Quotes written on a scruffy piece of paper are not a good sign, and if someone refuses to give you a written quote, run away! A printed quote with the company details on it and some terms and conditions is a much better sign.

Very rarely you might receive two quotes that are identical down to the last penny. This might be a sign of a fraudster using multiple company names, and if this happens, check the removals companies concerned carefully.

Look after your receipts when arranging a move

If you need to pay a deposit, get a proof of payment and make sure you have a clear idea of what the balance is so that you can pay with confidence when the time comes.

Still anxious about your move?

Moving house is a stressful undertaking, of that there is no doubt. As well as checking out your removals firm carefully, think about whether you can use self-storage to make your day less rushed. You can use a storage unit to keep fragile items so that they are out of the way on moving day. Or you can use self-storage if there is an unavoidable gap between the end of your tenancy and your new home being available. When you insure your stored goods with Store and Insure you can pay by the day, so we’ll only bill you for the time your domestic goods are in storage.