Beware of Rogue Movers and Their Scams

Moving? Beware the estimate that is too good to be true, and do your homework before your goods are loaded on the truck.

According to the Canadian Association of Movers, criminals are infiltrating the moving industry with scams galore to separate you from your money – and maybe your household goods as well.

Across Canada, “rogue movers really have become more of a problem,” according to Jim Carney, a member of the Canadian Association of Movers’ board of directors. Complaints to the Better Business Bureau have mushroomed, and the moving industry now represents the BBB’s fifth-most-complained-about sector.

Quoted in a CBC News report, John Levi, head of the Canadian Association of Movers, complained that criminals are posing as movers. Levi is pushing for more coordinated enforcement to protect consumers from these fly-by-night companies.

Often discount brokers sub-contract the move to another company, so you don’t really know who you’re dealing with should something go wrong. In a 2013 CBC Marketplace investigation of discount movers, delivery was delayed, goods were damaged, valuables disappeared, and stressed out consumers were charged extra before companies would unload their cargos.

Police usually see the issue as a civil matter rather than a criminal one, although the Association insists many of these activities are criminal. Movers in Canada aren’t licenced, and there is little oversight other than the Association and the BBB. Effectively, you’re on your own.

So what do you do to protect yourself?

Your first step should be contacting the BBB and the Association. Find out the movers with complaints against their names and avoid them. Instead, ask for referrals from friends or, better still, your real estate agent. Get three estimates in writing. Ensure you have a valid contact name and number (and test it). Move your valuables yourself. And remember, cheaper is not always better. Caveat emptor – buyer beware.