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Blog > Identity Theft > Moving Scams and Identity Theft Exposed: Ways to Safeguard Future Moves
 May 30, 2024

Moving Scams and Identity Theft Exposed: Ways to Safeguard Future Moves

Man worried about moving scams as he packs the contents of his home for moving.

Moving is a big deal! You want to make sure that all your papers are signed, keys handed over, belongings packed, and movers arranged. But a busy moving season can quickly turn into a nightmare if you fall prey to a moving scam. Yes, you read that right! What might appear to be a legitimate moving company can easily be a group of scammers who demand more money or trick you into signing contracts that benefit them more than you, or they can even steal your stuff, including your identity.

Man taping a home moving box.Take Jennifer’s story, for example: Her husband’s employer hired a moving company for them to move six states away. The husband-and-wife moving duo seemed friendly and professional. However, on the last day before their move, Jennifer and her husband both left the room where his wallet was on the table. Later as they traveled across the country, Jennifer and her husband found out that their credit card number was being used in the timing and locations where the movers were en route to their final destination!

Jennifer couldn’t officially prove that it was the movers, but she and her husband had to get a new card to complete their moving transactions. It was certainly a headache for them as they had already embarked on this big, new adventure.

How can you avoid becoming a victim of a moving company scam or identity theft? Know the signs and take simple precautions to help you stay out of harm’s way!

Understand common moving scams

These are some of the most common moving scams and practices that hit people’s homes and wallets:

  • Some companies will hold your belongings “hostage,” refusing or threatening to refuse to return them until you pay far more than you originally agreed to.
  • Some companies will claim that they used more supplies to move you than they really did, asking you to pay more money to accommodate them.
  • In a similar fashion, some companies will claim that your belongings weighed more than expected. This is called “weight bumping,” and they will want you to pay more to make up for it.
  • Some companies will alter or create a fraudulent bill of lading. This bill of lading contains all details about your belongings that are being transported. If the bill of lading is changed, they will probably ask you to pay more.
  • Some companies don’t properly vet their employees, which can allow thieves access to your valuables, confidential papers including bank statements, and even your credit cards.

How do scammers lure you into falling for these tricks in the first place? They will often offer deceptively low rates to make their so-called services appear too affordable to pass up. They will probably try to seem approachable and friendly so that you won’t suspect them of any nefarious plans.

Recognize the signs of moving company scams

It’s essential for you to know the warning signs of a moving scam before you fall headlong into their trap. When considering certain moving companies, watch out for these red flags:

  • Is it a cash-only company, or do they want a big deposit upfront before they even move you?
  • Do they want you to sign a blank contract before the move?
  • Do they provide quick cost quotes instead of inspecting your belongings first to make a cost estimate?
  • Do they avoid answering questions directly, or neglect to give you a physical address for their company headquarters?
  • Do they have a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities when You Move”? This is a booklet that federal regulations require movers to give to you.
  • Are they registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?
  • Are you able to find any reviews about the company online?
  • Do they show up to pack your things into unmarked or rented vehicles?

Know how to check if a moving company is legitimate

Man holding a home moving box and sad because of possible moving scams.One of the quickest ways to check if a moving company is legitimate is to search for them online. Do they have their own website? If so, visit it to see if it looks official. A secure URL beginning with “https://” is a good first indicator. Check if the website contains contact info and customer reviews. If you can’t find a website, you can still see if satisfied customers have left good reviews on other online rating websites. You can even try to find information about this company on the Better Business Bureau website.

Make sure the moving company offers to come do an on-site cost estimate. A reputable company will do this without you having to ask first. If the company agrees to put everything into writing, this is a great sign because it means that they want to keep records just as much as you do. Read and re-read contracts before you sign them.

Here’s what to do if you encounter a moving scam or theft

It’s important for you to file an official complaint as soon as possible once you learn that you have been scammed. Follow these steps to make your report:

  1. See if the moving company will work things out with you directly. If they do not answer or fail to make amends, take the next steps.
  2. Collect all the relevant material, such as contracts, invoices, receipts, and other documents involved in your interactions with this company.
  3. File a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) through their website or by calling their hotline at 1-888-DOT-SAFT.
  4. Contact your local police department, especially if physical items have been stolen.
  5. Leave reviews online, clearly detailing what happened so that other people won’t fall prey to the same scammers.
  6. Secure your valuables prior to the move and closely monitor your bank accounts and credit cards for any unusual activity.

Safeguarding private information

Jennifer and her husband were able to get their credit card money back, but Jennifer still has some words of wisdom to share: “Even if you’re a seasoned mover, you can never be too careful guarding your private information.”

As you plan your next move, start off on the right foot by becoming an IDShield Member. IDShield protects your personal information, monitors online activity, and quickly lets you know of suspicious signs that your identity has been compromised. If your identity is stolen, IDShield licensed private investigators do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore your identity to its pre-theft status.

Jennifer further states, “Now that I have IDShield, I know that if anything like this happens again, they will work with my bank and credit card companies on restoration and I have credit monitoring, with financial threshold monitoring, that can alert me if suspicious activity takes place.”

Take the next step!


Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to identity theft services through membership-based participation. IDShield is a product of PPLSI. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. The information made available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide professional advice, render an opinion, or provide a recommendation as to a specific matter. The blog post is not a substitute for competent and professional advice. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be third-party paid contributors. All information by authors is accepted in good faith; however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.


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