Can a moving company hold your items hostage?

If moving companies are demanding money before they unload your stuff, it's an important red flag. There is no guarantee that they will actually give you your belongings once you have paid. They could easily drive with a truck full of items, even after you've disbursed the money. You must also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and let them know that the moving company scammed you.

This may not always fix your situation, but filing a complaint with the BBB could prevent others from being scammed by the same company.

Moving companies

aren't allowed to hold your stuff hostage, but they can make you feel that way. With the increase in long-distance moves, as well as interstate moves, moving company scams appear to be increasing as well. Interstate moving companies are legally required to weigh their trucks on certified scales before and after loading each customer's shipment.

But dishonest companies “aren't afraid to keep everything you own unless you pay them whatever they decide they want to charge you for your move,” Walker said. Although they are often reluctant to get involved in civil matters, such as disputes between carriers and customers, it is worth calling local police to try to quickly resolve a hostage transfer situation. For interstate moves, charges are determined by the weight of your items, mileage between households, and any additional services. Make sure you have an inventory list and compare it to what the moving companies have listed before signing anything.

For an in-state move, contact any state agency that regulates moving companies or your state's consumer protection department. While my modern companies accept credit cards, others require certified checks, personal checks, or cash. When the representative arrives, NEFE tells you to discuss what services will be provided, the liability of the moving company for any damage or loss that may occur during the move, and how the company will work with you to resolve a dispute. A representative will ask you about your move and review the shipping documents, then answer any questions you have and explain the steps you need to take.

At the end of the move, moving companies demand additional fees and hold belongings hostage unless fees are paid. In-home estimates are really the only way a reputable company can accurately determine the cost of your move, says the American Moving & Storage Association. If you moved locally and live in a state like California and Pennsylvania that regulate moving companies, you can also turn to the Public Utilities Commission. In the most classic and frequent scam, a moving company will give a low estimate to pack someone only to substantially raise the quoted price once the items are loaded onto their trucks.

If you don't pay these amounts for delivery, a company can store your items at their expense, but there's more to the story. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that more than 35 million Americans move each year for better career opportunities or for various personal reasons.