As the U.S. begins to emerge from COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Florida is booming again with more residents moving into the state.
According to recent reports, home sales increased 5.6% in 2020, resulting in a 14-year high in overall sales throughout the country.
With an increase in home sales comes more demand for movers, and Florida officials are warning consumers to avoid moving-related scams.
“Florida is red hot,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “Our low taxes, growing economy, common-sense leadership and great weather has people from all over rushing to move here. Couple all that with a booming real estate market and the potential for scams increases.
“If you are a Floridian buying a new house or moving here from out of state to enjoy our great weather and growing economy, be wary of moving scams. From refusing to provide a written estimate to requiring a large, upfront deposit or payment in cash, these are all red flags that consumers can look for to help them identify a potential moving scam and avoid falling prey.”
Moody said common moving scams involve movers packing up and transporting household goods and then refusing to release them until the consumer pays an additional high fee.
Another scheme used by fraudsters, Moody said, is giving a low-ball offer to secure a moving job but then increasing the rate significantly upon arrival and threatening to avoid doing the job unless paid upfront.
To guard against these and other moving scams, consumers should:
- Never sign any blank or incomplete documents or contracts
- Obtain moving estimates and quotes from the company in writing and make sure the estimates are binding
- Determine whether the movers will perform the move alone or if the company will be subcontracting with another carrier
- Beware if movers show up in rental trucks without uniformed personnel
More helpful tips and red flags regarding moving scams can be found in the Scams at a Glance: On the Move brochure.
Interstate moving scams can be reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Intrastate moving scams can be reported to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.