BBB warning to exercise caution with online pet shopping

The BBB warns about pet buying scams
Updated: Dec. 6, 2022 at 10:30 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - the Better Business Bureau issued a warning Tuesday for consumers to use caution when purchasing pets online especially when they buy them without ever seeing them.

The BBB says buying without meeting poses a substantial risk of a scam because, “The internet is loaded with fake sites and because purchasing a pet can be such an emotionally charged experience,” said Jim Hegarty, President/CEO of the BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, the Kansas Plains and southwest Iowa.

Hegarty also revealed interesting results from a BBB study. While the number of cases of puppy scams has fallen, the average loss is rising. The number of reports of losses skyrocketed from 1,605 in 2019 to 4,513 in 2020 with the average loss rising from $674 to $722 during those two years. The number of reported cases in 2021 fell to 3,979 but the average loss still rose to $755.

An example of someone being scammed went down like this: In June this year, a Texas woman sent $850 for a Dalmatian puppy, which was considered a fair price. However she soon received an email claiming the dog needed insurance for its cross-country journey to its new home. The woman handed over another $725. Then she was informed the dog needed a thermal electronic crate for its flight, which would cost an additional $615. The woman sent the money but never received the dog.

She tried reaching the sellers by email and phone but by then, her number had been blocked.

The BBB says when searching for puppy sellers, consumers should insist on seeing pets in-person before paying any money. They should also try to set up a video call to view the animal, conduct a reverse image search on photos attached to the ads, research the breed to learn about the average market price, and check out a local animal shelter for pets to meet in person before adopting.

If you have been scammed, report the fraud with the BBB online or the Federal Trade Commission.