BBB warns vacation buyers that buying pets online is extremely risky – WSOC TV

The Better Business Bureau is asking people who want to give a furry family member as a gift this holiday season to use extreme caution when shopping for a pet online.

According to the BBB, online pet scams – when an online search ends with a potential pet owner paying hundreds of dollars or more to adopt a pet that ultimately doesn’t exist – are particularly prevalent during the holiday season. The agency claims that people who currently buy pets online are very likely to come across a list of scams in an online ad or website.

BBB Scam Tracker online shopping scam reports have exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, and pet scams account for 35% of those reports in 2021.

According to the BBB, crooks frequently take advantage of the high demand during the holidays by posting pictures of pets wearing Christmas hats and other gear.

Knowing the red flags associated with this scam can help future pet owners avoid disappointment and loss of money.

Typically, a scammer will refuse to let the potential owner of the animal meet the animal before purchasing, often claiming this is due to COVID-19 issues. The scammer claims he must use a pet delivery agency, often an airline.

BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of bogus web pages masquerading as real companies for this purpose. The scammer may also charge a fee for vaccinations or other last minute “needs”.

A Shelby woman reported to the BBB that she lost $ 350 this week trying to buy a puppy online.

The woman told BBB Scam Tracker that she paid a deposit of $ 350 through a prepaid card, but when she was supposed to meet the seller in person, no one showed up. The seller then asked for additional funds for the injections and transportation, and when the woman refused, they threatened to throw the puppy in the trash.

The BBB warns that the tactics used in pet scams continue to evolve, however. Crooks increasingly demand payment through hard-to-find cash apps like Zelle, Google Pay, Cash App, Venmo, and Apple Pay. A review of Scam Tracker data revealed that the vast majority of reports mentioned Zelle as a payment method involving the purchase of pets online.

The largest group of victims by age is the 25-35 age group, followed by the 35-44 age group. The average financial loss reported to Scam Tracker was $ 1,088.

While 82% of scam reports involving pets involved dogs, others reported cats, birds and iguanas.

The BBB’s recommendations for buying pets online include:

– See the animal in person before paying any money. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, consider a video call with the seller so you can see the seller and the animal for sale. Since the crooks are unlikely to comply with the request, this can help prevent a scam.

– Do a reverse image search of the animal’s photo and look for a distinctive phrase in the description.

– Do some research to get an idea of ​​the right price for the breed you are considering. Think twice if someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a very discounted price, as it could be a bogus offer.

– Check out a local animal shelter online for animals you may encounter before adopting.

(WATCH: How to Search Photo History Online)

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