The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has made note of a marked rise in the number of “puppy scams”.
These scams have taken many by surprise, and it’s important to know what to look for to be able to spot a fake online pet store.
If you are shopping for pets online, you should be watching out for scams. As consumers have been resorting to looking online for pets more often, scammers have increased their efforts in this area. According to the BBB’s expert contacts, a massive 80% of sponsored ads for pets found online may be fake. The BBB scam tracker has 907 reports on pet-related scams, and the Federal Trade Commission report held over 37,000 complaints related to pets. The vast majority of cases noted by the BBB and FTC involve similar ‘puppy scams.’ The FTC believes that only 10% of scams get reported, making this issue a serious problem for tens of thousands across the US.
The BBB recommends several steps in avoiding puppy scams. The first and most important is to not buy a puppy without seeing it in person. Many scammers use the same photos, so if you see the same dog advertised on multiple online stores, then you’re seeing a clear red flag. Next, don’t use money transfer services such as Western Union to send money to someone in exchange for a puppy. In this case, you’d have little if any recourse, but if you use a credit card you can dispute any fraudulent charges. You can also refer to the BBB Scam Tracker to find out about any reported scams in your area, or for warnings on particular sellers.
If you have already been victimized by a puppy scam, you should:
- Report the scam to the BBB Scam Tracker
- Go to petscams.com to report it their as well
- Call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP