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Despite the fact that 63% of adults have moved to a new community at least once during their lifetime, it’s a process that can bring about a lot of stress. When moving house becomes a bit too overwhelming, it may be tempting to simply hire the movers and get things over with as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, several Maryland residents have learned the hard way that they should have spent a bit more time vetting their moving company before handing over their hard-earned money.
Late last month, a new-to-Maryland family spoke to the media regarding their decision to hire Public Moving Services, LLC for their recent move from San Diego. The company packed up their belongings at the end of July and told the family their estimated arrival date would be August 4. The family still hadn’t received their belongings as of September 27. They’re currently living in their new home with virtually no furniture or clothing. They also say they were quoted a price of $6,000 for the move initially, but when the movers arrived, they said the cost would be double.
The family has no idea as to whether they’ll see their belongings again. Although some may be able to be replaced, the movers took off with collectibles and irreplaceable mementos, including photos, baby books, and even a wedding dress. While after-wedding parties increased by 11.5% in just one year, this family won’t be doing much rejoicing unless their items miraculously turn up.
The family initially found the company through a moving search engine and said the sales representative was initially very helpful. They were even sent a link to the company’s Better Business Bureau ranking — or so they thought. The link actually directed to a BBB page for a Missouri-based moving company with a similar name. That company has an A+ rating, while the real rating and reviews for the company this family used were under a different name entirely. Public Moving Services, LLC recently changed its name to Your Moving Company, a move that doesn’t surprise said Angie Barnett, president and CEO with the BBB serving Greater Maryland.
“They’ll open up a business and then once they get complaints, once they have issues, they close down and open up down the street under a new name. So, that makes it hard to track them, hard to track their websites because of that,” Barnett told a local ABC affiliate.
After the story aired, more Maryland residents came forward to warn the public about their eerily similar experiences with this company. Those who hired Public Moving Services have been waiting several months for their items to be delivered. Some also say their initial quotes were drastically different from the amount they were expected to pay on moving day. One Maryland man, who hired a different moving company, says the movers withheld his possessions for ransom.
All told, Public Moving Services, LLC has received 70 complaints through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and more than 20 complaints with the North Carolina Office of the Attorney General. (The company’s address is registered in Charlotte, NC.)
While the Federal Trade Commission estimates that there’s a one-in-33 chance you’ll have your identity stolen in the next year, you need to take steps to safeguard both your identity and your personal possessions when hiring movers. Although many of these customers thought they were doing their due diligence before choosing a company to hire, the reality is that it’s better to air on the side of being overly cautious. Don’t assume that the first moving company that pops up when you conduct an internet search is the best. While the internet can be an amazing tool in many ways, it’s often better to seek out recommendations from friends and family members first. At the very least, make sure to thoroughly research any company you find online. Check the websites for the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Verify the company’s license and insurance policy, as well. While a couple of complaints are to be expected, non-reputable companies will usually have red flags you can’t ignore.
You should also make an inventory of your items and make sure you have everything in writing pertaining to your move. Read over your contract carefully and ask questions beforehand pertaining to payment, estimates, and liability. If there’s anything you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to inquire or even have a lawyer look over the contract. Never pay for these services in cash, as this will make it impossible to contest in case of fraud.
Ultimately, if you do become a victim of a moving or hostage scam, contact the police right away and file complaints with the BBB and Mover Rescue. In instances of interstate moves, file a complaint with FMSCA, as well.