What If My Moving Company Keeps My Stuff?

It happens more often that you’d expect. A moving company moves the stuff, then parks their truck outside and demands far more money than expected. When the people don’t pay up, the movers hold onto their possessions like hostages.

The moving company basis this act on what’s called a mover’s lien. The mover’s have an interest in the possessions they move for the amount they are owed for their services. If the customer doesn’t pay, they can sell the customer’s stuff. The law has good intentions, but it can be abused by moving scammers.

In many cases, movers low-ball an estimate to reel in a customer, then hit them with unexpected fees and a higher, sometimes bogus price. The customer is left with the decision to pay thousands of dollars more than expected or to potentially forfeit their stuff.

However, it need not be that way. If you are sure your movers are scamming you, do the following to get your stuff back:

  • Read the contract – Your moving contact is the basis of your relationship with your movers. Hopefully, you have it in writing, but oral contracts are contracts, too, and, to be frank, if you’re in this situation, your written moving contract probably does not touch on the things that should be in a moving contract. But try to figure out what charges aren’t supported by your contract, and make your argument to the moving company.
  • Pay what you owe – Pay what you know you owe and nothing more.
  • Call the police – If your movers are scamming you, the police would like a word. It’s one thing for there to be a legitimate contract dispute; it’s another to be ripping someone off. The mover’s lien won’t apply in the latter case, because the mover is trying to collect money it knows is not owed. In essence, the mover is defrauding you – mover’s liens do not protect fraud – and the police may be able to put an end to it.
  • Call an attorney – If calling the police doesn’t work (probably 50/50), it’s time to lawyer up. Lawyers know how to handle these situations. If need be, they can get the proper court orders to help you out in the immediate sense, and then file suit to get you back where you belong. Simply getting a lawyer on your side may be enough in and of itself to get the movers to back off.
  • Call the AMSA – If your movers are a part of the AMSA, call them and complain. Also, get your movers’ licensing credentials, and contact the appropriate licensing agency. If your movers do not provide licensing info, refer back to the police – you’re probably dealing with an unlicensed outfit (note, however, that in some states, local movers need not be licensed).


Learn how to make a moving contract that avoids all hidden fees and costs.

About Devie Lin

Read blogs written by Devie Lin and find information related to moving & relocation on the Moving Blog by Moving Guru.
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