Sporting lovable personalities and a willingness to show unconditional love and loyalty, it’s no wonder dogs are a human’s best friend. Unfortunately, fraudsters know this too, and they use a variety of tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting dog lovers looking to purchase a pooch. However, you can avoid scams by following these basic guidelines.

What is a Puppy Scam?

Fraudsters will pose as reputable breeders looking to sell dogs, often at a huge discount. But the truth is there is no discount, and rarely ever a dog. Fraudsters primarily take advantage of people who want a purebred dog but do not want to pay a full price for the puppy at reputable breeders. They offer up popular breeds for a tenth of the price to entice their victims, only to leave the unsuspecting buyer hanging once the payment is made.

Sniff Out the Warning Signs

Be on the lookout for the following:

  • The price is too good to be true, heavily discounted and/or negotiable
  • The dog is free, but you need to pay for shipping
  • No refunds, returns, or warranties
  • Can only contact the seller online and not by phone
  • Seller asks for a “deposit” or changes the price
  • Stock photos or altered images
  • They want funds fast. Request to send money using wires or electronic means

Best Practices

Recognizing the warning signs of fraud is a good start but take additional steps to protect yourself from fraud. For instance, educate yourself on various breeds, and ask for breeder references from a local veterinarian or animal shelter.

Try to stick to in-person cash transactions. Studies have shown that several online sites list pets for sale and nearly 80 percent are scams.

Lastly, consider adopting a furry friend from a local animal shelter. Crossbred canines often live longer, healthier lives than their purebred counterparts and are significantly more affordable. This way, you can save a pooch and your wallet in one swoop. 

Are You a Puppy Scam Victim?

You can report Puppy Scams to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or your State Attorney General’s Office.

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