The Rise in Scammers in the Household Goods Relocation Space

As an employer, you provide relocation benefits in order to give your employees the best possible relocation experience. But did you know that those intentions may be thwarted by one small but critical decision—namely, their choice of moving company?



Unfortunately, the household goods relocation space is rife with, not just poor-quality movers, but out-and-out fraudsters. According to the Better Business Bureau, more than 10% of movers have earned an “F” rating on—four times the rate for all businesses combined.

In fact, those “F” ratings are exceeded only in notoriously scam-ridden industries like telemarketing, online gambling, and fake retail websites.

This is a reality that every corporate relocation program should address. Learn the scope of this sweeping problem—and how to update your program to best protect your employees.


Down-and-Dirty Moving Industry Stats   

It’s a worrisome reality: The Better Business Bureau receives an average of 13,000 complaints regarding household goods moves every single year.

Add that to the 7,600+ complaints received by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last year. (The FMCSA oversees residential moves.)

Because experts maintain that fewer than 10% of fraud victims report it, the true scope of the problem is undoubtedly much greater than we know.

Worst of all: according to DOT’s Wanted Fugitives list, some rogue operators aren’t just fraudsters—they’re considered armed and dangerous. Last month, one such ringleader was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $3,000,000 in restitution.

In other words, this is a serious problem. Obviously, you don’t want your employees tangling with these characters in any way, shape, or form.  


Why Scammers Are Drawn to the Household Goods Space   

It’s true that the moving industry has long been considered sketchy. According to industry specialists, the problem intensified nearly 25 years ago, when oversight responsibilities shifted from the now-defunct Interstate Commerce Commission to the FMCSA.

The FMCSA isn’t a large federal agency.; its primary mission is to reduce commercial vehicle accidents. Because only a small portion of its budget is dedicated to the residential moving industry, enforcement isn’t as rigorous as it could be. And while most states have their own laws regarding in-state moves, lack of uniform regulation creates opportunities for scammers.

Compounding the problem: most consumers only move a few times in their lives, so many are unaware of this threat. Today’s scammers are skilled at creating a convincing online presence, and most people begin their search for movers online.

The result: stolen or damaged belongings, goods held hostage, vastly inflated bills—even occasional identity theft. Often, by the time a customer files a complaint (if they do), the mover has disappeared—resurfacing elsewhere under a new name.


Stay up to date

Subscribe to the blog for the latest updates

How to Protect Your Relocating Employees   

Employers that partner with relocation companies are best positioned to protect their employees from choosing unsavory movers. That’s because most leading relocation companies rigorously vet the suppliers in their provider networks, and they know what to look for.

Furthermore, movers that contract with relocation providers are highly motivated to provide outstanding service in order to keep earning repeat business, providing effective checks and balances.

But what if your company only offers a straightforward lump sum relocation allowanceno vendor network or support services? At the least, you’ll want to arm your employees with information, so they can make safe choices.

To that end, the FMCSC recently launched a consumer education website, Protect Your Move, which offers detailed guidance for selecting a quality mover.

And as an employer, you have access to more fool-proof solutions. For starters, with UB MarketplaceUrbanBound’s first-of-its-kind program—your employees can access our meticulously curated supplier network, even with lump sum plans. Not only can you steer your employees to top-performing movers, you’ll stretch their relocation allowance because we negotiate substantial supplier discounts.

Better yet, if you take advantage of UrbanBound’s complete relocation solution, your employees also gain access to our relocation specialists. These pros help employees choose the best supplier for each situation, ensuring smooth moves and positive relocation experiences.

It’s undeniable: the household goods moving industry is tricky. And until regulations change, it’s likely to stay that way. But there are steps employers can take to protect their relocating employees—and we’re here to help every step of the way.

Human Resources Today