How to Avoid Moving Scams

by Jenna Jun 11, 2024

Moving scams or removalists scams are more common than you may think. Here's how to avoid moving scams when booking interstate removalists.

Recently we met with a lovely lady who was planning a very big move in a very short amount of time. Even though she only had a week to relocate, she was very hesitant to book, especially over the phone. After discussing her concerns and her situation with us, we discovered that the woman had recently been a victim of a moving scam.

She had already given a moving company a deposit of $400 to move her interstate, only to discover that the company wasn't valid. After the woman paid the deposit, she didn't hear from the moving company again and, after several failed attempts to get in contact with them before her moving date, she realised they had stolen her information and her deposit money without the intention of ever collecting her items or transporting them across the state border. 

Very scary stuff. And, sadly, this happens a lot. 

Are Removalist Scams Common?

Very much so! Not only in Australia but overseas as well. There are over 8,000 interstate removalists in Australia and many of them are not experienced, insured or even properly accredited.

All you need to become a removalist is an ABN and a moving truck and often people don't realise they may have been scammed until it's too late.

Common moving scams in Australia

A moving scam is a fraudulent or deceptive practice by a moving company to cheat a customer out of money, belongings or to steal information. 

Here are a few to be aware of: 

Hostage Moving Scam

This occurs when a moving company provides you with a very low estimate to lure you in. Once they collect your goods, they will change the quote on you to exceptionally high and hold your items 'hostage' until you pay the extra. 

Take a look at this hostage moving scam on A Current Affair. 

Weight Bumping 

This refers to a moving company overcharging you for your load. For example, you may have 30 cubic metres to move but the company may inflate the size to 40 cubic metres so you pay more and they can keep this extra. 

Deposit Demands

Many reputable companies will ask for a deposit to secure your booking. However, when the deposit is hefty, then this could indicate an issue. You shouldn't have to pay the remaining balance until your goods are picked up or delivered. 

Impersonating Reputable Companies

This is a really worrying moving scam where scammers will 'create' a moving company, similar to a reputable one and then pass them off as this company to steal your goods or money. 

Disappearing Moving Scam

This moving scam refers to instances where your belongings are loaded onto a truck and then disappear. 

Container Scams

Container scams are in a level of their own in which companies impersonate shipping container transport in order to steal your container and the contents inside. Here's a story A Current Affair did on container scams recently. 

How to Tell a Moving Scam

Moving scams can be hard to pick up until it's too late. The only foolproof way is to always book with a credible company such as Best Rated Transport. Here are a few things to be aware of when you are comparing removalists.

Thousands of Perfect Five Reviews

Five star ratings are what you want, but when a company has nothing but five star ratings, it could indicate fake reviews. 

Low Ball Price

If the price seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Generally speaking, if you are moving interstate, most respectful and reputable companies will charge around $150 to $250 per cubic metre. Any quote under $100 may be a scam. 

No Insurance, No Accreditation

Trustworthy removalists will come with their own insurance which means when you are quoted a price, this includes compensation insurance if your goods are damaged. 

Hidden Fees

Reputable removalists will often quote you on a fixed rate that includes insurance, fuel, coverings, unloading and loading and everything else so you won't be hit with unexpected costs later down the track.

No Online Presence

This doesn't neccessarily mean the company is dodgy, but rather they prefer the phone over internet. But we would still recommend a quick Google search of the company. If a removalist company isn't willing to invest in web design, it might indicate they are not willing to invest in their customers either. 

Lack of Staff

One of the things we always recommend when it comes to comparing interstate removalists is to go with a company that offers a personal experience. Moving can be really stressful and there's a lot to coordinate. Be aware of the 'bloke and truck' services as you may not get the admin support that comes with a move.

Look for a removalist that provides you with a moving coordinator or administrator that can help you with every step of the move. At Best Rated Transport, we have the BEST moving coordinator in the business with years of experience and a dedication to each and every move. 

What to do if you're caught in a moving scam

  1. Keep records of all communications and transactions with the moving company. 
  2. Report the scam to Scamwatch, a division operating under the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  3. Contact your Bank or financial institution. They might be able to cancel the charges or help you get your money back.
  4. If you have suffered any financial or emotional losses due to the scam, you may want to consult a lawyer or seek help from consumer protection agencies.

One of the things we promise at Best Rated Transport is excellent customer service, support and fair, accurate pricing. We only work with top rated interstate removalists that come with our green tick of approval. Every top rated interstate removalist in our network have been carefully vetted and come with excellent track records and customer satisfaction ratings.

If you do believe you've been involved in a moving scam, give us a call and we can help get your move back on track. 

Moving Interstate?

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COVID-19 UPDATE Our drivers can still access all States but there are public restrictions with access to WA. Domestic interstate moves are still possible for: QLD / NSW / VIC / SA / NT / TAS

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