What To Do If Movers Are Holding Your Things Hostage

Moving is already a daunting task, but it can be even more stressful when movers hold your belongings hostage. This can happen when they demand more money than you agreed to pay or when they refuse to release your possessions until you pay them in full.

It’s a common story: you get scammed by the movers because they hold your things hostage. You pay them, and then days go by without any word from them. They don’t answer their phone or return your calls. Finally, after weeks of waiting, you call the police to report fraud. What should have been a simple move has turned into months of stress and worry that can only be relieved when all is returned safely to you – if it ever will be!

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This article will give you some tips on what to do in this situation so that no one else falls victim to these unscrupulous practices again.

Contact your coordinator

If your shipment is late, Coordinators can assist you in getting your appeal to the management. If your company is not asking you for money, don’t believe they keep your things hostage. It is better to contact the management and get their side of the story before taking action.

Contact your coordinator if movers contact you and ask for more money than what you agreed to or if they refuse to release your belongings until you pay in full. They will be able to help you resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Remember, never pay the movers anything until all of your belongings have been released to you.

Look at your contract

When moving, it’s important to have a contract that outlines the terms of the move. This can help to prevent situations like this from happening. If you encounter problems with your movers, review your contract and see if any clauses could help you resolve the situation.

For example, your contract may state that the movers are required to release all of your belongings within a certain timeframe. If they don’t, you may be able to get a refund or compensation for the delay.

It’s also important to remember that moving companies must have insurance. If any of your belongings are damaged or lost during the move, you may be able to file a claim against the company.

Also See: What Is Moving Insurance & How You Can Pick The Right One! | What to do When Movers Break or Lose Your Stuff

What are the different types of contracts?

When moving, there are three types of contracts you can choose from: binding, non-binding, and binding not-to-exceed.

  1. A binding contract is the most common type of contract, and it means that you are legally obligated to follow through with the move. If you back out of the move, you may be liable for damages.
  2. A non-binding contract is less binding than a binding contract, and it means that you are not obligated to move, but the mover may still be able to sue you if you back out.
  3. A binding not-to-exceed contract is the most flexible type of contract, and it means that the mover cannot charge you more than what you agreed to in the contract. This is a good option if you are unsure how much the move will cost.

You may read our article on How to Read a Moving Contract to get more information on Moving Contracts.

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Know your Rights

As a consumer, it’s important to be aware of your rights in situations like this. A moving company is legally required to provide its clients with a brochure detailing their rights and duties.

The 110% Rule: 

Under the 110% rule, which is a part of the Surface Transportation Board’s regulations, movers are not allowed to charge more than 10% above the estimated cost of the move unless the customer agrees to it in advance. They violate the rule if they attempt to hold your belongings hostage pending payment greater than 110% of the estimated cost. If you are charged more than this, you can file a complaint with the Board.

Notify law enforcement

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), if you have paid the movers in full and they are still refusing to release your belongings, you should contact the police. This is a criminal act, and the authorities can help to get your things back.

Report to the FMCSA: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency that regulates the moving industry. They have the authority to suspend or revoke the license of a moving company that is found to violate the law for 12-36 months and charge a stiff fine of up to $10000 per day. If you feel like your movers have scammed you, you can file a complaint with them. They will investigate the matter and take appropriate action. Their hotline at 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.

List of information you will require to file a complaint:

  1. Company name
  2. DOT number
  3. Moving date
  4. Origin and destination of your move
  5. What was stolen or damaged
  6. Proof of payment, such as a receipt or canceled check
  7. Photos of the damage, if possible
  8. Contact information for witnesses if any

If the police need to be involved, keep a record of all communication with the movers, including emails, text messages, and phone calls. This information can help build a case against them. Be persistent in getting your belongings back – the sooner it’s resolved, the better.

You will have to contact a state agency if your move is in the state. If you are moving to California, you can contact the Bureau of Household Goods and services to file your complaint.

If the agencies are not listening, you may also consider reaching out to a local news station. This will help to get the word out. You can also take help from a third-party organization if the hostage situation is not resolved. Third-party organizations are backed by the law and have more resources to help you in a situation like this. . “Move Rescue” can help you get your belongings back.

Move Rescue: 

Move Rescue is backed by a network of law firms and has a team of moving industry experts who can help you if you find yourself in a situation where your belongings are being held, hostage. They work with attorneys and law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute cases of moving company fraud, and we also provide resources and support to victims of these crimes. They help make the moving process safer and more transparent and to hold moving companies accountable for their actions. If you have been the victim of moving company fraud, it would be best to contact them for assistance.

Look at the Weight Tickets and Inventory

Interstate movers must weigh their trucks before and after the move and record the weight. If you have the weight tickets, you can compare them with what is on the inventory list that was given to you before the move. This will help to prove that the movers are in the wrong. Sometimes movers claim that actual weight exceeds what was estimated, and they hold your belongings hostage to extort more money. 

Refusing to weight each shipment and using a fake ticket is a common scam tactic used by movers to charge more bills to the customers. If your move was domestic (within the same state), they are not required to weigh the truck, but they must produce an inventory list, so check out the inventory list.

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Be familiar with regulations, consumer protection programs, and phone numbers. 

Filing Claims for Damage and Loss

Compared to having your items held hostage by movers, filing a claim for damage and loss may be slower, but it’s still a viable option. The claims process can be long and frustrating, but it’s worth trying.

First, you will need to gather all of the documentation related to the move, including the inventory list, weight tickets, photos of the damage (if any), and contact information for witnesses (if any). You will then need to fill out a claim form, usually found on the moving company’s website. Be as detailed as possible and attach all of the relevant documentation.

Submit the claim and wait for a response

The company has 30 days to respond to your claim. They may offer a settlement, or they may deny the claim. If they deny the claim, you can then pursue legal action.

Remember that filing a claim may not get your belongings back immediately, but it could help recoup some of your losses. 

Things to Remember

When moving, it’s important to be aware of the scams. One of the most common moving scams is when movers hold your belongings hostage and demand more money than what was originally agreed upon. You can do a few things to protect yourself from this scam.

  1. Don’t ever pay cash, you will think it can save your money, but it will cause more stress.
  2. Don’t pay in advance. Legitimate companies allow you to pay after delivery.
  3. Don’t use shortcuts while moving.
  4. Make sure you are familiar with regulations that apply to movers before scheduling home estimates.
  5. Remember the 110% rule and claim procedures with each representative. 

Also See: Ways to Pay for Your Move

Share you Experience

If you have been a victim of a scam by movers, it is important to take action. You can file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency or reach out to a third-party organization for help. It is also important to share your experience with others to be aware of what to look out for. Leave your reviews on websites such as Yelp or Google, and share your story with your friends and family. You can write your reviews on the company website. The more people know about this scam, the less likely it will happen to others. 

Prepare for next time

If this happens again, being prepared will help minimize the damages. Make sure you do your research ahead of time and choose a reputable moving company. Get estimates from multiple companies, and check their reviews online from websites like MovingScam.com. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And remember, if something goes wrong during the move, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are organizations out there that can help you get your belongings back. Make sure the company you are choosing is licensed and registered with FMCSA.

Also See: Smart Ways to Get Along with Your Movers

Conclusion

Moving can be a stressful experience, and unfortunately, scams by movers are becoming more common. One of the most common scams is when movers hold your belongings hostage and demand more money than what was originally agreed upon. There are no shortcuts to prevent this scam situation. Educate yourself and be on the lookout for every warning sign to avoid one. Thanks for Reading! 

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I protect myself from this scam?

The best way to protect yourself from this scam is to do your research. Get estimates from multiple companies, and check their reviews online. Look for patterns of inconsistency among the different quotes or a company that has no reviews. Another way to protect yourself is by verifying the moving company with FMCSA before your move. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the laws that apply to movers.

What should I do if my belongings are taken, hostage?

If your belongings are taken hostage, it is important to take action. You can file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency or reach out to a third-party organization for help. Notify a better business bureau, hire a lawyer, and sue the moving company. It is also important to share your experience with others to be aware of what to look out for. Leave your reviews on websites such as Yelp or Google, and share your story with your friends and family.

What are the consequences of this scam?

The consequences of this scam can be costly and stressful. Victims often have to pay more money than they originally agreed upon, and the move can be ruined. It is important to take action if this happens to you so that you can get your belongings back.

What should I do if my things are lost or damaged during the move?

If any of your belongings are lost or damaged during the move, you may be able to file a claim against the moving company. You will need to provide evidence of the damage or loss, and the company may ask for a statement from the movers. It’s important to file a claim as soon as possible, as there may be a time limit on how long you have to make a claim.

Can movers hold your stuff hostage?

No, movers aren’t allowed to hold your things hostage if you have paid the 100% amount. The company is allowed to hold your things until you pay your balance.

Also Read: How to File a Car Shipping Insurance Claim?