Dec 3, 2021 - Business

Moving scams aplenty in Tampa Bay

Illustration of a hand putting a message into a complaint box that has a swearing emoji on the front.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

People moving to the Sunshine State are getting their first lessons about Florida scammers the hard way.

Why it matters: Complaints to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about moving companies are on track to double from last year, WFTS reports.

  • Nearly 1,200 people reported moving company problems between January and early November.

The latest: Changes could be coming next legislative session to strengthen Florida's moving laws and crack down on scams.

  • Sen. Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater) told WFTS he's drafting legislation to protect consumers.
  • "Obviously they know the worst that is happening is a slap on the wrist and a fine," he told the station.

Be smart: The Better Business Bureau says it's illegal to charge more than 110% of an estimate before delivering goods.

  • If you're moving, make sure the people you paid are the ones doing the work. Moving scammers act as brokers who collect deposits and arrange moves but then hire other companies to do the work β€” creating a breeding ground for miscommunication and lost goods.
  • Do your research. Don't just go with the lowest estimate. Check online reviews and see if complaints have been filed against the company with the BBB or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

πŸ’­ Selene's thought bubble: When I was getting ready to move to St. Pete earlier this year, I didn't do my homework and used one of these scam brokers.

  • The great estimate I got on the phone was way off when it came time for the real movers to load up my boxes, and I waited almost a month to get my stuff back. The company never knew where it was and did nothing to help me.
  • When the delivery finally came and I pointed out things were broken and boxes were missing, I was told to file an insurance claim and sign a paper.
  • Well, that signature I gave signed away my right to get any money or items back.

The bottom line: Seriously, do your homework when moving. Don't be like me.

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