The next time you move, dodge the “rogue movers” who take your belongings hostage

News Release

Don’t be boxed in: use our advice to stay ahead of scammers

August 1, 2017 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

We are in the peak moving season. Families want to settle into new homes before the school year starts. Military personnel across the country are receiving new assignments. College and university students—leaving the nest for the first time or returning for the fall term—are moving into residences and apartments. No matter the reason for your move, your belongings are precious.

You should be wary of the “rogue movers” scam, which is a real threat!

Typically, rogue movers will find victims through ads on popular classified postings websites, such as Kijiji or Craigslist. They will quote a low price and claim that there are “no surprise fees” or that “everything is included.” The fraudsters will deal with you by phone, insisting that a verbal contract is enough and that the paper copy can be signed on the day of the move.

However, when they arrive at your doorstep, they present you with a very different contract, containing unexpected clauses and piling on extra charges, such as warehousing and pickup fees. They pressure you to sign the contract or be left without a mover. In some instances, the fraudsters will hold your possessions hostage until you pay another amount for their delivery. You are left scrambling to find the money, hoping that you will get everything back in one piece.

Moving is already stressful without these unpleasant surprises. Follow these tips to make sure that your move goes off without a hitch.

  • Look for certification: Some provinces require professional movers to have specific permits or registrations. This is a good starting point to find a legitimate company. Consult your provincial consumer protection agency for more information.
  • Check the company roadmap: Take the time necessary to research the company and consult multiple reviews. Contact your provincial consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau to see if they have received complaints about the company.
  • Get an estimate: Legitimate companies will send representatives to assess your needs, ensuring your quote is detailed and complete. This is an opportunity to inquire about any surcharges, insurances or additional fees and to ask questions.
  • Get it in writing: Do not trust companies providing quotes or contracts over the phone. Get both in writing before the move and take the time to read the information carefully. Ask questions if clauses are unclear and keep records of responses.
  • Trust your instincts: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If you have been the victim of a rogue mover or other fraud, or if you have information about this type of scam, report it to the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau or your local police. You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or your provincial consumer protection agency to help others who might consider hiring the same company.

Avoid becoming a victim by educating yourself and your family: consult the Bureau’s Consumer and Business Alerts, read The Little Black Book of Scams, and watch videos on current scams.

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The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

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