KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Many people have turned to the internet, looking for a pet during the pandemic; however, some are getting scammed.
The Better Business Bureau announced last week that it received triple the number of reported pet scams in the last few months as compared to the same period last year. According to the BBB, they have received 1,681 reports of such scams, up from 583 last year.
“Overall, pet scams comprise 25% of online scams reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker. During the same period last year, it was 18%. The typical dollar amount lost to pet scams also rose from $655 last year to $700 this year, one of the highest for all categories. The percentage of people who reported losing money inched up from 68% last year to 70% this year,” the report said.
BBB added that the biggest increase in online shopping fraud in general was pet scams, more than triple compared to previous years.
The organization added that the actual numbers of pet fraud may be higher than reported because victims either don’t know where to turn for help or do not report. The BBB said “many victims who contacted BBB’s Scam Tracker reported they wanted to adopt a puppy in order to ease their isolation and brighten their lives during the pandemic.”
The BBB said scammers told victims they would need to send money for special climate-controlled crates, insurance and a non-existent COVID-19 vaccine. Victims were also told in some instances that they couldn’t see the pet due to the pandemic.
One victim reported listing more than $1,100 to two different puppy scammers in April.
The BBB offered tips for avoiding puppy scams:
Tips for avoiding puppy scams:
- Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. If that isn’t possible, conduct an internet search of the picture of the pet you are considering. If the same picture appears on multiple websites, its likely is a fraud. You also can search for text from ads or testimonials, to see if the seller copied it from another website.
- Avoid wiring money, or using a cash app or gift card. These payment methods offer no recourse and no way to get your money back if you are the victim of a fraud. Fraudsters may claim to accept credit cards, but may steal your credit card information to use it in other scams or inform you that payment didn’t go through and request the payment via wire service or gift cards.
- Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If a purebred dog is advertised for free or at a deeply discounted price, and then other payment is required for services like vaccination or shipping, it could be a fraudulent offer.
- Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter. Many shelters are looking for fosters to help relieve the animal’s stress and reduce overcrowding at their facilities. Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters.
- If you think you have been scammed or have found a suspicious website, report it to BBB Scam Tracker and the Federal Trade Commission. In Canada, contact the Canadian Antifraud Centre.
- Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter. Many shelters are looking for fosters to help relieve the animal’s stress and reduce overcrowding at their facilities. Humane Society of the United States refers consumers to local shelters, or refer to Humane Canada for information.
For local East Tennessee shelters, go here.
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