It’s hard to believe there are people low enough to prey on seniors who are moving from their family home out of necessity, but there are. In addition to dealing with the stress of sorting through belongings and moving to a new place, seniors also need to stay alert for those trying to take advantage of or steal from them. Here are a few of the most frequent scams:
There are two very common moving scams today. The first involves a moving company giving you a quote, picking up your items, then refusing to deliver your items until you pay a lot more than you were told. The second involves the moving company requiring an up-front deposit, then not showing up for the move.
How to avoid it – Do your homework to make sure the company you are hiring is reputable. The easiest way to find someone you can trust is to get referrals from friends and family members who have used them. If this isn’t an option, ask companies for their business license numbers and confirm they are still active. Check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the government body that oversees moving companies, for complaints against the company. Not wanting to take inventory in person before giving you a quote, not being willing to give you anything in writing, or requiring you to pay in cash are all red flags, and you should continue your search.
Senior Transition Scam
It’s no secret that the U.S. population is getting older, making senior services a popular business. And while the majority of senior transition companies are legit, there are some that aren’t. Fraudulent companies may try to overcharge you, may steal items while they are packing, or offer to buy your belongings at a fraction of their value.
How to avoid it – The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) is a professional group dedicated to making senior transitions easier for everyone involved. Make sure the companies you are considering are members. Ask for proof of their liability insurance and workers compensation coverage, and get estimates and contracts in writing. As with movers, senior transition companies will also have a business license, so check to make sure they are still active. Just because a company has a website does not mean they are legit.
Home Repair Scam
Home repair scams can happen at any time, even when you are selling a home or buying a new one. Scammers may see the for sale sign in your yard and try to convince you to hire them for repairs that supposedly will make your house sell faster or for a higher price. They may tell you that you need unnecessary repairs or appliances, like a water softener, when you move into your new place. Or they may ask to look inside your home to give you home repair suggestions when they are actually looking to see if you have anything worth coming back to steal.
How to avoid it – If your home does require repairs, ask for referrals from friends or family members. Never hire someone who knocks on your door and suggests repairs without getting a second opinion or doing an extensive background check on them. Don’t ever let anyone into your home, even if they are wearing a company uniform, unless you have made an appointment and are expecting them. And never pay up front for the entire cost of a repair, because chances are you will never see them again.
No one needs one more thing on their to-do list when they’re in the process of relocating, but taking these few precautions could protect you from scammers and save you money in the long run.