NJ is 4th in the nation for moving fraud complaints
New Jersey is the No. 4 state for moving fraud complaints filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2017, with 115 complaints.
FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez says more than 4,100 moving fraud complaints were filed in 2017 across the nation and the issue has been growing over the past years. Predatory movers, as they are called, have figured out ways to get people over a barrel.
Some of the biggest moving fraud complaints include the damage and delay to the shipment. If you're dealing with a reputable company, there will be protections for the consumer on that.
Another big complaint is last-minute overcharges or insurance issues, where you didn't have insurance for damage that was caused. With overcharges, they double or triple the cost of what they told you and since they have your goods already on the truck, it's a sure-fire bet you're going to pay.
A third common complaint is hostage load, where you won't see your goods again until you pay up.
Martinez says these predatory movers target specific groups.
"They'll target retirees, people who are moving for job purposes because they have to move quickly and they know they're under gun, and military families. We have a large military base in New Jersey at McGuire-Dix."
People who hire movers need to protect themselves by doing their homework before contracting with a mover. Martinez says to check the government website www.protectyourmove.gov, which will give you a whole checklist of things to look at before you contract with a mover.
He says watch for the red flags. If the company, for example, is not listed at www.protectyourmove.gov, Martinez says that's the first red flag. Do not contract with that company.
If the moving company does not agree to an on-site inspection of the goods before they do the move, that's a red flag. A reputable company will size up what they're moving and then give you a price quote.
Also, if the mover demands cash or a large deposit, that's a red flag because they may never show, says Martinez.
Also, be wary if a mover asks you to sign a blank or incomplete document.
If they don't have a local address that's a problem because it's a place where you can go to and complain if you're not happy with the service. An address also is needed in case you need to serve them with a lawsuit.
He also says that on moving day, if the company shows up with a rental truck instead of one from their own fleet. It does happen with reputable companies where they're short on trucks. But it's always a good idea to ask.
If you feel you are a victim of moving fraud, call the FMCSA at 1-888-368-7238 and report it.