Scam artists posing as reputable moving companies are taking advantage of consumers, in some cases holding their possessions hostage for more money before they will deliver them.
The Canadian Association of Movers (CAM) says that during the last several months it has received many complaints from consumers and credible movers about rogue businesses representing themselves as reputable moving companies to the buying public. Consumers are being led to believe they’ve hired a professional brand name moving company but another company shows up on moving day, when the consumer has no choice but to proceed with the transaction.
“The experience usually ends up with the consumer’s goods being held hostage for more money, delivery delays and losses or damage to treasured possessions,” says the association. “This criminal element representing themselves as reputable, professional movers is increasing at an alarming rate and the rogue businesses have found some innovative ways to scam unwary consumers lately.”
The association says these scam artists are using brand names of reputable moving companies in their search engine advertising to mislead consumers. “This is called brand hijacking,” it says.
Other movers are operating under names that are similar to well-known brand names of reputable moving companies.
Among the brands that have been impacted are Allied Van Lines Canada, Atlas Van Lines (Canada) Ltd.; Great Canadian Van Lines Ltd., Mayflower Canada, North American Van Lines Canada and United Van Lines (Canada) Ltd.
“The Atlas name has been hijacked numerous times in the past year by rogue companies,” says Atlas Van Lines president Barry Schellenberg. “They are using our brand name and those of our competitors to get business. As an industry, we are very concerned about the number of people who are being scammed. Consumers need to be extra diligent as a good percentage of movers listed on a search engine are rogue companies.”
The association recommends the following four simple steps to help protect themselves from these unscrupulous companies:
- Check out a prospective mover’s reputation with CAM. The association promotes quality services by reputable movers who have established themselves as credible, reliable companies who adhere to CAM’s code of ethics.
- Verify any logos, identifiers or affiliations being used by the mover to “sell” moving services. If they promote themselves using the brand of a trustworthy organization, consumers should verify it with that organization.
- Avoid online quotes or bookings with movers who do not show a business address or contact information other than a phone number. The quotes often come from one company operating under multiple names. Rarely are they legitimate movers with trained workers and professional equipment, says the association.
- Contact the local Better Business Bureau for references.