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BBB warns of moving scams impacting West Michigan

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Kalamazoo Movers moving a family to a new home. The owner, Cory Westrate said there are things customers can do to confirm the legitimacy of the moving company. (WWMT/Ray Hole)

The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan warned about about moving scams impacting Grant Rapids and Traverse City.

Communication Specialist Joe Aulisio said it happened to one man moving in Grand Rapids. He said the man didn't receive all his items. He said the mover called the company 20 times until he was able to get in touch with someone, then when he demanded the rest of his belongings, Aulisio said the company told the man they wouldn't give them to him until he gave the company a five-star rating.

Aulisio said instead of giving a review, the man contact the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.

He said this moving scam is becoming prevalent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it's having on people moving.

The bureau said it receives an average of 13,000 complaints and negative reviews each year about movers. Aulisio said scammers will either try to get more money out of you on the front end, or after they have your belongings.

Moving scams

Types

  • Charges more than your initial quote
  • Loads your stuff up, drives away, holds your belongings hostage until you pay more money
  • Says it accepts credit card payment, but then asks for cash in person

What to do if you become a victim of a moving scam

  • File a police report
  • Report the scam on the Better Business Bureau's website or on Scam Tracker
  • Contact MoveRescue at moverescue.com or 800-832-1773
  • File an online complaint with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or call 1-888-368-7238
  • File a claim with the insurer listed in your moving contract.

Red flags

Aulisio said there are several red flags to look for before selecting a moving company.

  • Won't agree to an in-person quote
  • Quote is on volume versus weight
  • Doesn't provide booklet of rights

Protect yourself and your belongings

Cory Westrate, owner of Kalamazoo Movers, said there's a few ways people can confirm the legitimacy of the moving company.

"The biggest is to make sure they're licensed, insured, and registered through Michigan state," said Westrate. "I would also recommend for the customer to have an in house quote, so you can meet the person and feel them out. Make sure they know what they are talking about."

Westrate also suggested people make their own letter saying the company cannot hold their belongings, and having the company sign it.

Aulisio suggested before selecting a moving company, go to the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan's website to review moving companies ranking and reviews. He said issues happen, but seeing how the company handles it is a telling sign.

Follow Callie Rainey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Email tips to crainey@sbgtv.com.