Moving into a new home is one of the most exciting yet stressful events in a person’s life.
As North Carolina real estate agents, you’re not only assisting clients with finding their dream homes, but you also have the responsibility to provide them with value beyond the transaction. With the alarming rise in moving scams, it’s imperative for real estate professionals to be well-informed so they can guide clients safely during the moving process.
The Current Scam Landscape: What the Data Shows
Moving scams are seeing an alarming surge, with a projected 35% jump YoY by the end of 2023, according to an analysis by HireAHelper. On average, victims have reported losses of $836 in 2023. Even more concerning, consumers are expected to be defrauded out of $1.59 million by the close of the year – that’s a 42% increase from 2022.
Main Types of Moving Scams:
No-shows: After receiving an upfront fee or deposit, some movers fail to show up on the moving day. They often become unreachable, leaving the client both out of money and without a mover. This scam comprises 26% of reported cases.
Hostage Load: Some impostor companies pretend to be genuine movers, only to hold clients' belongings hostage and demand ransoms or additional charges. This alarming scam is commonly referred to as “hostage load” and constitutes 24% of BBB complaints.
Change-of-address scam: Fraudsters mimic the U.S. Postal Service website to deceive recent movers into paying exorbitant fees for address changes. This scam accounted for 31% of the total complaints.
Other scams: Other prevalent scams include those who don't uphold contract terms, overcharge, or even offer bribes for positive reviews.
Guiding Your Clients: Steps to Prevent Moving Scams
Real estate agents can play a pivotal role in helping their clients avoid these scams.
Encourage clients to gather multiple quotes: Direct your clients to get several quotes from moving companies. Any quote that is drastically low or high should be regarded with suspicion. Remind them that the absence of a written contract or an excessive down payment is a red flag.
Promote online verification: Advise clients to vet the moving company's online presence thoroughly. Websites like the Better Business Bureau provide verified customer reviews that can offer insights into the company's reliability.
Suggest a detailed inventory: Recommend that clients maintain a thorough inventory of their belongings, preferably with photographs. This will be invaluable if anything is misplaced or stolen.
Discuss moving insurance: For added peace of mind, clients should consider buying moving insurance. This will protect their possessions from potential damages or losses.
Follow the Truck: If at all possible, recommend that your clients follow the moving truck from their old home to their new home. This is one of the best ways to prevent a hostage load situation.
As North Carolina's real estate professionals, it's not just about selling properties; it's about ensuring our clients have a seamless transition from one home to the next. By staying informed about these scams and providing valuable advice, you can help protect your clients from falling victim to these fraudulent practices and cement your role as their trusted advisor.
Have you or your clients ever fallen victim to a moving scam? Share with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class or drop a comment below!
Tracey, M. D. (2023, August 1). Moving Costs, Scams Create Relocation Challenges. REALTOR® MagazineReal Estate News.