Anchorage, Alaska. — March 22, 2017 Be prepared for a plethora of adorable, wide eyed, wet nosed puppy pictures on everyone’s social media news feeds. Since National Puppy Day is March 23rd, many users may be enticed by all the cuteness to search for a new furry friend.
Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest advises animal lovers to be vigilant of pet scams when searching online. Consumers across the Northwest reporting to BBB’s Scam Tracker have lost an estimated $9,000 in the last three months and $8,000 in 2016 to online pet scams.
Tail as old as time. Most of the victims reported finding a pet online and, after contacting the seller, would be told to wire the money. Continued requests for more money would follow – the usual excuses were for shipping and specialty kennels. Consumers reported losing out on thousands of dollars as well as never receiving the pet.
BBB serving the Northwest offers these tips and tricks to make adopting an animal a safe walk in the park:
- Dig deeper into the website. Don’t just skim it. Research for identical wording and photos online by copying and pasting a line from the website or email into a search engine. It’s probably a scam if several sentences and pictures appear on other sites. Research if a business is trustworthy at bbb.org.
- Visit the breeder. Breeders want to find the best possible owners for their pets and will allow potential buyers to visit the pet in person. If you can’t make a trip out to see the breeder, do your research and obtain references.
- Ask for real, personalized photos. Before sending money, ask for additional photos to prove the animal is actually owned by the seller. For example, have them write a name on a sheet of paper and put it next to the animal in the photo.
- Use “paw approved” payments. The pet scam victims who lost money reported transferring cash through MoneyGram. Wiring money is the same as cash —there is no way to trace it or get the money back. Pay with a credit card instead.
- Consider adopting, not shopping. Adopt from a local shelter. This can be a less expensive choice and allows for interaction with the pet before bringing it home.
Adopting a pet into the family is a large emotional and financial commitment. For more puppy adopting advice visit Research and Prepare Before Buying a Puppy. Help BBB warn others about this scheme by reporting scams at BBB’s Scam Tracker.