Ready to Make Some Moves? Watch Out for Fraud!

Posted on 04/01/24 by Maryanna Antoldi

Ready to move to Florida? We can’t blame you. With beautiful, sunny skies, no snow, and plenty of things to do, our state is truly the best place to live and retire. But beware! Whether you’re moving down the street or from a new state entirely, if you’re hiring a mover, you’re at risk of fraud. Moving homes is already a stressful experience and scammers exploit this anxiety by pressuring consumers to make quick decisions without reading the fine print of their moving estimate or contract.

Here's just a few ways you can spot a moving scam, so you can enter the Sunshine State with your best foot forward (and all of your belongings!):

1. They answer the phone as “Movers” or “Moving Company,or give a different name from what you found online. Scammers sometimes set up multiple companies and simply change names once one of their so-called “businesses” has been flagged as a scam.
 
2. They give an estimate after a rushed inspection or sight-unseen. Rate quotes aren’t binding and a sight-unseen estimate means the mover will likely end up charging you more on the day-of. Always ask for a written estimate itemizing the costs for a move.

3. They require you pay a hefty deposit or pre-pay for their services. Reputable moving companies won’t usually require an upfront payment; they’re paid at the end of the move. Paying upfront could mean a no-show on moving day. Be wary if your mover only accepts cash payments.

4. They ask you to sign a blank contract or something new day-of. Scammers will use the stress from the day of the move to have you sign documents without reading carefully, so make sure the contract is signed and that you have a copy beforehand
 
5. Their truck is not marked or branded. Most reputable movers have company-branded vehicles, so be wary if the vehicle is unmarked or is a rent-by-the-day truck.

And how can you prevent a moving scam from even occurring? Well, the State of Florida is working on something as we speak. Senate Bill 304, Moving Services – a bill which AARP Florida supported during the 2024-2025 legislative session – is currently awaiting the final review. This bill increases consumer protections for professional moving services and adds some additional safeguards around who can legally prepare moving estimates and contracts.

But there are also some steps you can take now to avoid moving fraud:

Now, get packing! The Sunshine State awaits. For more information on moving scams, check out our printable one-pager and visit aarp.org/FLfraud to learn about other resources and tips for protecting Floridians from fraud.

This story is provided by AARP Florida. Visit the AARP Florida page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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