National Puppy Day is on Mar. 23 and consumers can expect a nearly constant stream of cute puppy pictures across most social media platforms celebrating everyone’s furry best friends. After seeing these pictures, some consumers may decide that the time is right for a (or another) dog of their own and will begin the process of searching for and purchasing a canine companion. However, exercising caution when shopping online for the perfect pet is important.
Pet scams continue to take a heavy toll on consumers across the nation and Texas. According to BBB’s 2021 Scam Tracker Risk Report, pets were the most common type of purchase used to perpetrate online purchase scams, and current data shows little indication 2022 will be much different. In Texas, more than $25,000 has been lost to pet scams so far in 2022, which accounts for half (50.1%) of all monetary losses to online purchases. Of those who reported a loss of money due to a pet scam, the median amount lost is a staggering $1,363.
“Even though puppies are the most common type of animal used in a pet scam, BBB also receives reports of fraudulent sellers advertising the sale of kittens, reptiles and birds that are never received,” said Heather Massey, vice president of communications for Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas. “In most cases, consumers do not recognize they are interacting with a scammer until they start arranging for the transportation of the animal after purchase.”
In February, one Texas resident submitted a report to BBB Scam Tracker that they lost $1,000 when attempting to buy a miniature Schnauzer online. After paying an initial $400 to the seller, they referred the buyer to a shipping company to deliver the pet.
“[The shipping company] said I needed to send an additional $600 for issuing a sedative and reserving a special crate,” the Dallas-area resident reported. “After that, [they said] I needed to pay an additional $800 for insurance. Fortunately, I had maxed out my Zelle limit.”
The consumer realized it was a scam once the shipping company stated they accepted gift cards as a form of payment after Zelle was no longer an option.
“I’m now out $1,000, and there’s nothing I can do about it because it was debit,” the report concluded.
In addition to the risks associated with purchasing a puppy online, many charitable givers may consider donating to causes that support dogs this National Puppy Day. While BBB encourages charitable giving, it is vital to remain aware of scammers who create fraudulent charities and crowdfunding initiatives disguised as a worthy cause.
“It is always a good practice to spend the time to research a charity or foundation before committing any funds to their stated cause or mission,” said Massey. “Unfortunately, claiming that funds are going to a specific cause is as easy as writing it down. It takes some investigatory work on the part of the donor to make sure their money is going to a worthy organization.”
If considering a donation to a crowdfunding initiative, BBB recommends donating only to those you personally know or can independently verify as legitimate.
“Scammers and con artists are well-versed in appealing to the kindness of strangers and tugging on heartstrings for their benefit,” said Massey. “Don’t immediately trust the story you read and the pictures you see. Spending the time to verify its authenticity can both save you money and make you feel better about donating to the cause.”
For more information about pet scams, visit BBB.org/PetScams.
To find charitable organizations accredited by BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance which freely evaluates charities against its 20 Standards for Charity Accountability, visit Give.org.
Visit BBB.org/RiskReport to read BBB’s latest Scam Tracker Risk Report to learn more about how to identify and avoid the most common scams affecting consumers across North America
ABOUT BBB: The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2021, people turned to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, free at BBB.org. Local, independent BBBs can be found across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB serving the Heart of Texas, which was founded in 1950 and serves 105 counties across Texas.