Between reduced employment, quarantine-living, and struggling to find toilet paper, the last thing on our minds are moving scams. However, despite the struggles of COVID-19, scammers are gearing up to take full advantage of those moving in 2020. Here are a couple of the most recent scams that this summer has to offer:
Facebook Benefits Program Scam
Some scammer are utilizing the fear and panic of COVID-19 to their advantage. These types of scammers claim that they have been awarded up to $100,000 from the government’s new benefit program, and are looking to help their Facebook friends and people in the local community. They usually approach their victims by sending friend requests via Facebook, or monitoring buy and sell groups. They then offer a deeply discounted rate on their services. However, once you pay the scammers, they disappear before fulfilling their services.
In more severe cases, scammers perform identity-theft and other crimes. Personal information can be easily stolen via credit cards, email links, and subtle details given over the phone. The best way to avoid scams of this nature is to be cautious from unsolicited offers by email or social media. Prior to opening any email or Facebook links, ask yourself why is this person requesting to redirect me somewhere else.
Shady Moving Scam Brokers
There are stock brokers, moving brokers, and then there are shady moving brokers. These dishonest people use two methods to convince you to trust them; urgency and cost. With people’s budgets becoming overloaded due to COVID-19, many families are rushing to downsize and find more affordable living accommodations. The urgency to move is causing a lot of strain on legitimate moving companies, as they are usually booked weeks in advance. This urgency leads desperate families to google search any moving company regardless of its reputation.
This is where shady moving brokers strike. They claim to be legitimate moving companies, but in fact lie about their services and outsource their work to anyone willing to work for them. They often solicit help from craigslist and hire movers without background checks or identification. Fraudulent brokers will promise to find you the cheapest movers in the area. Some even go so far as to offer discounts and waive fees on behalf of the moving companies they represent.
Once your moving company arrives (if it arrives), all those waived charges you thought were gone reappear, and the broker disappears with your deposit. No background checks means that you are placing your belongings in the hands of complete strangers. When the moving company doesn’t have insurance – this means your belongings will not be protected in the likely event of theft or damage. The best way to avoid shady moving brokers is to google the company and observe what past customers had to say. Expect to find a page riddled with one-star reviews. Always opt to speak with the company your broker refers you to prior to any payments. Ensure what the broker promised you matches the prices listed by the moving company; and get it in writing. Lastly, if a company doesn’t have a professional business email, or omits their address, then it’s time to look elsewhere.
In short, stay save from moving scams by avoiding both unsolicited moving offers over Facebook, and any moving advertisements that seem too good to be true. We wish you a safe and happy move!