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Better Business Bureau warns consumers to beware of puppy scams

This holiday season the Better Business Bureau has an urgent warning: beware of puppy scams.

According to the BBB, the average monetary loss in puppy scams is increasing with an average loss of $850 this year, up 60% from 2017. In total, consumer losses from pet scams are expected to exceed $2 million for 2022.

Typically puppy scammers set up fake websites with the promise of cute puppies. After getting the initial payment for the dog, they ask for more money for shipping or special crates. The scams remain consistently profitable because their multi-tiered setup allows scammers to convincingly go back to a consumer several times to ask for money.

“Never buy a pet without seeing it in person,” says Simone Williams with the BBB.

She says Yorkies, Dachshunds, and French Bulldogs make up nearly 30% of all puppy scams, but buyers should be cautious when shopping for any breed online.

BBB tips for researching puppy sellers:

  • See pets in person before paying any money
  • Try to set up a video call to view the animal
  • Conduct a reverse image search on photos attached to ads
  • Research the breed to figure out the average market price
  • Check out a local animal shelter for pets to meet in person before adopting
  • If you are the victim of a puppy scam, contact:
    • The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker to report fraud online
    • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): reportfraud.ftc.gov to file a complaint online or call 877-FTC-Help.
    • Your credit card issuer: Report the incident if you shared your credit card number, even if the transaction was not completed. Monitor your statements and if you suspect fraud, ask for a refund.
    • Petscams.com: Tracks complaints, catalogs puppy scammers, and endeavors to get fraudulent pet sales websites down
Sabrina Cupit

Sabrina Cupit

Midday News Anchor and Health Reporter

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