How to spot NYC moving scams?

You’re about to undergo one of the most stressful activities out there, moving, and if that wasn’t enough – now you have to worry about NYC moving scams too? Great, I know. Don’t fret for this article will point out to the most important things to look for when hiring a moving company. We will try to take at least one thing off your list of worries.

In order to successfully recognize NYC moving scams you need to know which elements to look for. There are a few obvious ones and a few that are a little harder to spot, but it gets quite easier to find when you know where to look. Make no mistake, this applies to both short distance and long distance moving.

A guide on how to spot NYC moving scams.
Moving a house is no easy task.

First thing you need to understand – it’s all about the money. The point of any scam that they will try to use to trick you is to get more bucks out of your pocket, in despicable and cunning ways. So, learning how to detect (and thus avoid) a scam will save you some nerves, time and most importantly money.

Most Common NYC Moving Scams – “Switcharoo”

In the sea of large and small scams, there are some that are so frequent that they deserve to be mentioned first. Namely, one that has happened to many people who were not prepared was the good ole switcharoo. This one isn’t clever at all, and it’s quite ‘in your face’ but believe it or not it works.

Switcharoo is basically when you get one price for the move, and on the day of the move when you have no choice really – they double it. At that point you can either stay with your belongings on the street and try to figure out what to do – or to pay the thieves what they ask for. Pretty tough, I know. One of the key indicators of this malicious fraud is ‘too good to be true’ offer you receive from the get-go.

They’d give you an ultra cheap offer that you would, of course, accept. And then, that faithful morning when you’re supposed to be out of the apartment – they double the price. One of the key indicators for this is the fact that they usually won’t agree to an onsite inspection. Performing one will allow them to make a price estimate accurately. If they refuse to do it – something is fishy.

Second, you should always ask for second opinionsOnly by contacting three of four moving companies will you be able to see the contrast between the prices. If one is too big (or too small) you should know something’s fishy.

Most Common NYC Moving Scams – “Hostage”

Sounds like out from a Denzel Washington movie. It’s not that grand. But its a hostage situation none the less. This scam can very well be ‘part two’ of the ‘switcharoo’ since they can work really well in conjunction.

One of the common moving scams is the hostage situation.
Don’t fall prey for the hostage situation.

Namely, they would pack all of your treasured possessions in their trucks or vans, and then double the moving price. If you’d refuse to pay they would threaten to keep your belongings. In comparison to the switcharoo this is far more malicious, and far more illegal. If you become a victim of something like this the first step should always be notifying the authorities. Do not engage the movers yourself, or try to violently take your possessions back since sometimes this might be what they are trying to achieve. 

Just try to write down their license plates and any other info you deem useful and call the cops.

Steps to Take to Avoid Scams

There are going to be numerous types of scams that will resemble the switcharoo and hostage, and it’s hard to point them all out. In this section we will tell you what steps you should take to successfully avoid these and any other types of scams.

Word of Mouth

Literally the safest way for you to be safe is to ask your friends and family about a recommendation. If they have had a pleasant experience within the past 6 months or a year – you should be pretty safe yourself. There will be no surprises. Unless you’re really unlucky.

Online Reviews / Forums

In the age of internet ignorance is a choice. Information spreads fast, especially online. Go to online review websites and forums where people have shared their experiences (and possibly contact info of their movers). Be mindful of fake reviews. Use your common sense to spot one.

Check out the Chosen Movers Website

When you pick one, make sure to go to their webpage. Scroll through it. If it looks like it was made by a 15 year old, and has no physical address or phone number – it usually should activate red lights. We would strongly recommend you to avoid that from the start.

Ask For a Licence

Simple as that. Every mover in the NYC area should be approved by the New York State Department of Transportation. Any mover that hasn’t received their license should not be the one you chose. To make it easier, any moving company with a solid reputation will have such a license that can be found on their website. Also, you can contact 800-786-5368 or email for verification. Also, you can research your moving company on the FMCSA website. If you can find info about the company by putting in their license number on this website, it means that the company is very serious.

Get Everything in Writing

This does not apply strictly to movers, this applies to any service or good you’re buying. Make sure you have everything you agreed on (i.e. time, date, price, etc.) on paper. Then there is no room for little switcharoos along the way.

Avoid Giving Deposits

Basically, if they ask for a large deposit they will most likely not be legit. They’d take the deposit and never show up. Every single legit, serious company never asks for any type of a deposit but rather ask for payment upon delivery.

Avoid moving scams by knowing who you are hiring.
Always make sure to use a certified moving agency.


Looking for a reputable moving company in NYC area? Big Apple Moving has got you covered. Avoid all the stress, avoid all NYC moving scams and enjoy your move!