5 Keys to Avoiding Online Pet Scams



From fake antivirus software to Nigerian princes, the internet is rife with scams. Unfortunately, there are even con artists looking to take advantage of people searching for a new furry family member.

Fake pet sales are actually a bigger problem online than you might think. According to the Better Business Bureau, up to 80 percent of sponsored advertisements for pets may be fraudulent.

To increase consumer awareness, below are some tips retailers can share to help their customers avoid falling victim to a pet sale scam.


1. Lookout for warning signs.
If you are shopping for a pet online, be wary of the following red flags:

• The asking price is lower than the average for that particular pet or breed. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

• Communications from the seller are full of grammar or spelling mistakes.

• You’re required to pay via money transfer, gift cards or prepaid debit card.

• The seller tacks on additional costs, such as a special crate or insurance.


2. Always buy in person.
Before exchanging any money, be sure to see the animal in person. You should also do a reverse image search on the pet’s photo to see if it’s a stock image or stolen from another site. Do the same with testimonials or text descriptions.


3. Use a credit card
Paying with a credit card will allow you to dispute the charges, if it turns out to be a scam.


4. Adopt, don’t shop.
The best way to avoid a scam is to adopt a pet from a local shelter. Plus, this ensures a dog or cat in need finds a loving home, and also makes room at the shelter for more pets to be saved.


5. Report scammers
If you or a loved one is targeted by a fraudulent pet sale, report the seller to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.


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