Moving season begins, the Better Business Bureau warns of scams

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COLUMBIA — With moving season almost in full swing, the Better Business Bureau is warning customers to be cautious as they decide which company to use. 

BBB nationwide sent out 1.7 million requests for customer reviews and received more than 8,300 complaints regarding American moving companies in 2015.  

Regional Director of the mid-Missouri BBB, Sean Spence, said examples of common complaints are bills that were higher than estimates and items being held for ransom. 

"You might have movers who are not quite as ethical as we wish they would be," Spence said. "They might hold onto your items until they get paid a certain amount of money." 

Spence said good documentation, such as making sure the company is insured, will help prevent these types of incidents. 

"Once a moving company has your stuff, their ability to exert power over you is much greater," Spence said. 

TLC Moving Manager Crystal Regazzi said she believes part of the reason people get scammed by a company is because they do not look into the business enough. 

"Definitely research your moving company before you just blindly trust them," Regazzi said. 

She said TLC works to avoid these incidents by charging based on weight rather than hour and keeping their employees at a low number. 

"There are companies that don't push their workers to work fast or they will take many breaks," Regazzi said. 

Regazzi said their busiest moving time begins in early to mid-May and goes throughout the Summer. 

"If anything by us gets broken or damaged we either fix it or replace it," Regazzi said. 

Spence said a moving scam can also go both ways when a person may take advantage of a company. 

"Somebody who is using a moving company can say that something got broken when it got broken after the move was already done or something was missing when it wasn't already on the truck," Spence said. 

He said it is important for customers to check the references of a company they are considering to use. 

"Not just read reviews on a website, but actually talk to someone who has used them because they're going to be moving your whole life from one place to another and it really does put them in a position of power," Spence said. 

He also said it is important to make sure the company is properly insured.

"If you'll do these simple things, generally it's going to be a very good experience. Most moving companies are honest, it's just that small minority that can make the rest of them look bad," Spence said.