Moving apartments is stressful and frustrating, and that’s if everything goes well. Unfortunately, there are some moving companies that take advantage of renters.

Protecting yourself from moving scams is fairly easy as long as you walk into the situation with a game plan and know when to walk out if you think the deal seems shady. Here are some tips that you can use to protect yourself and make sure you don’t become the next moving scam victim.

Research your moving company

If you decide to bypass your friend’s old Ford pick-up truck and go with a moving company – do your research! Sure, there are lots of reputable national movers, but if you’re moving local and decide to go with a smaller independent chain or some guy with a truck off Craigslist, research everything about the company before you sign a contract or pay.

If you can’t find any info about them online, don’t waste your time.

Read online reviews

If you do find the moving company online, check out their online user reviews. Verify how long they’ve been around and compare what their past customers have said about their experiences.

Make sure you read all of the reviews. Some companies may be leaving their own glowing recommendations, so you need to scroll down and read every comment.

Don’t be a victim of the classic “hostage load”

Hostage load scams are all over the news lately. Movers will quote you a too-good-to-be-true price, pull up to your apartment, load their truck with all of your possessions and then say, “Welp, you seem to be over the weight limit we agreed upon – pay up.”

Sometimes these companies won’t even give their victims a reason – they’ll just hold their customer’s belongings for ransom. Get everything in writing before you let a company start loading up your stuff.

Avoid leaving cash deposits

This is probably the first scheme ever pulled in the history of moving schemes. You get a great quote, leave a cash deposit and the movers never show. Or even worse, you give them a deposit, they pick up your apartment full of belongings and you never see them again.

Combat this by avoiding all cash payments and like dealing with hostage loads, get everything in writing, get signatures and confirm insurance coverage.

Read the fine print in your contract and ask questions

What happens if your movers’ van gets in an accident? What if the van gets impounded? Is there a sneaky maximum weight limit? What responsibility does the moving company have if anything goes wrong?

These questions are standard and they should all be on the checklist you make when you’re vetting your moving company.

Keep an inventory of everything that gets transported

This is going to take a bit of extra effort, but if you really want to protect yourself during your move, inventory everything that will make the trip with your moving company. If you have the time, take photos as well.

A box could go missing, a prized vase could get crushed – if you have a solid inventory of your property, you have proof if you have to make a case against the moving company.

If you do decide to go with a moving company, expect to put a few hours into researching your choices. It’s a small chunk of time to invest knowing that everything you own will make it to your next apartment unscathed.


Libby McMillan is editor and outreach coordinator for ApartmentGuide and