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How to Avoid International Moving Scams

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Moving overseas can be stressful, so you'll need to hire a good international moving company to take some of the pressure out of your hands. However, there are many scams that moving companies can pull and you're especially vulnerable to them when moving overseas. Read on to find out how to avoid these international moving scams.

Look for certifications

Unlike a domestic move, there is no overarching governing body to regulate international moves. This means that there are plenty of fraudulent international moving companies out there looking for unsuspecting customers to scam. It's one thing to find a real moving company with some underhanded business practices, but an altogether fake moving company is a possibility when you relocate overseas.

Luckily, there are several organizations and alliances that certify their members as safe international movers. You just need to look for and verify their certifications when screening a potential international moving company.
  • FIDI. This federation of international movers is not governed by any one government but is purely based on holding international movers to a set of standards.
  • RIM (Registered International Mover) certification is supplied through the AMSA (American Moving and Storage Association).
  • The FMC (Federal Maritime Commission) is an American certification board that regulates shipping standards.
  • OMNI (Overseas Movers Network International) is another international moving federation like FIDI.

Make sure the price is right

Most scams come from misleading pricing. You often get what seems like a low estimate but instead end up paying much more than expected in hidden fees. When moving overseas, the movers can hold your belongings hostage while demanding money quite easily. You need to be sure that the pricing is reasonable, accurate, and clearly defined before you agree to hire any moving company.
  • Don't pay up front. Most reputable moving companies will not ask for a deposit before the move. Normally all payment is done upon delivery. A large deposit before the move is often a red flag signaling a fraudulent company.
  • Get an in-house estimate. Estimates over the phone or even based on your online descriptions will not be as accurate as an estimate that comes after a representative from the company comes to your home and views your actual shipment. You should not completely trust any quote you get before this estimate and you should not trust any company that refuses to do an in-home estimate.
  • Be wary of any quote that seems too good to be true. You should compare the prices from multiple companies to get a good idea of what the move should cost. Some companies will say that your shipment magically gained weight during the trip overseas and ask for an inflated price before returning your items.
  • Research any freight forwarders or secondary moving companies that must be used for an overseas move. These secondary companies could partner with otherwise reputable moving companies during an international move and could possibly charge you more money or mishandle/steal your belongings. You should know of all parties that will be handling your things and make sure all of them are certified and trustworthy.
There is a lot to keep track of when moving overseas, but it is important to keep track of your international moving company, as well. To get started searching for certified international movers, head to the database in our international moving section and start comparing companies.

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on November 17, 2014 - Moving Expert
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