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 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 the full price with reputable breeders. They may offer up popular breeds for a fraction of the costs to help entice their victims, only to leave them 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
  • 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. For instance, educate yourself on various breeds, and ask for breeder references from a local veterinarian or animal shelter.

Avoid paying upfront and try to stick to in-person cash transactions. Studies have shown that puppy scams cost consumers an average of $850.

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 or your State Attorney General’s Office.

If you believe your personal or bank account information was compromised in the process, immediately contact your bank and set up credit monitoring alerts through Experian, Equifax or Transunion.

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