Beware of Unlicensed Moving Companies in California

Residents of California, specifically San Francisco, have been moving out making it a major story in 2020.

Many factors have played a part in the mass exodus, from the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and the increase in cost of living. The pandemic has given the chance for employees to work from home and the closing of many businesses which gave San Francisco. Zillow reported back in August about residents fleeing from California and showed how real it really is.

The wildfires raged and ravaged in the summer of 2020, where at one point it seemed that the entire state was on fire. This resulted in a large surge of people fleeing from not only San Fran but from California entirely.

There has been a fair share of businesses that have been able to boom due to all of this, but nothing like the moving business. And when these businesses boom scammers and opportunists will not be too far behind.

A report from The Guardian reveals the moving industry in California is ravaged with problems. These are ranging from price gouging, unlicensed/uninsured moving companies, and stolen goods.

If you are wanting to operate a moving company in California, there are some steps to follow. California requires all moving companies to obtain a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration license. This can be done by filing an application fee, passing a test, and undergoing a background check. Many of these unlicensed movers did not take the time to get their license and are offering low-ball offers, which is leading to customers with lost, stolen, or damaged belongings.

There are also reports that some of these companies are packing their belongings and then holding them hostage for more money.

Earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Washington Post reported that these types of fraudsters are targeting people throughout the country, and demanding more cash up front, then packing their stuff, most of the time in an unmarked truck, leave the residence and then they call the customer to demand more money for the return of their goods.

The BBB has recently revealed that nine out of the 35 fugitives currently wanted for moving fraud are all located around San Jose, CA. The also stated that the fraudsters have often changed their names, locations, and business names to evade the law.

With the large moving out of California, residents are finding that there is a scarcity of rental trucks and sky-rocketing prices on them, compared to other parts of the country. U-Haul, the largest rental fleet in the country, bases it rates on the demand and distance between locations. We investigated the pricing on Tuesday and found that renting a 10-foot truck from Helena, MT to Los Angeles, CA, would cost you $720 while if you did the opposite trip it would cost $3,443, that is almost five times as much.

Legitimate businesses are hurting due to all the unlicensed movers. If someone finds a moving company that will move them cheaper, 9 out 10 times they will go with the cheaper moving company and not do the research about them.

Chris M. of a family-owned moving company in Hayward has told The Guardian that it has be a horrible and stressful year. “It’s horrible. Customers are on the phone crying,” he said. “They are scared. The scheduled and paid for the movers and they never showed up. Then when they reach out to them, they are not answering the phone. They are set to move out and this is happening and on top of that they are not able to find a moving truck to rent. There is some major panic out there.”

If you are in California and plan on moving, make sure to look for any red flags and how to choose a moving company. Most are going to scam you with the pricing by cubic foot versus weight, and having customers sign a contract before any in-home estimate is even offered.