Looking for a new puppy? How to avoid being scammed online

Scammers targeting families looking for puppies
Posted at 9:25 AM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 11:26:22-04

BOISE, Ida. — Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to a loyal companion. Pets can decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills. Unfortunately, as people search for the perfect furry family member to add to their home, scammers are also ready to take advantage of the moment.

The Better Business Bureau found when it comes to online purchases, buying a pet over the internet was the top way to be scammed in 2018. BBB had nearly 1,000 puppy scams reported to its Scam Tracker. Victims lost up to $1,000 in some cases with one Idaho woman losing $500 when she thought she was buying a beagle puppy.

People are lured into the scams by fake websites or sponsored ads that appear when they're searching for a specific breed of puppy. Pictures often hook potential pet parents immediately and once they show interest, they're asked to make an immediate deposit to reserve the animal. The deposit is usually hundreds of dollars, but the scam doesn't stop there. Fake dog breeders often say they're in other states and must fly the dog to you. That's when they'll ask for more money, like travel costs, insurance fees, and special crates. The requests for money keep coming until it becomes clear there is no puppy.

One of the best tips to avoid being scammed is to try and find your new pet locally. Check for reputable breeders in Eastern Idaho and verify purebred information with the American Kennel Club. Another way to avoid losing money: head over to your local humane society or local shelter. If you're looking for a specific breed, the humane society can offer tips on finding a breeder or put you in touch with breed-specific rescues.

If you do decide to go through an out-of-town breeder, do your due diligence. Run a Google image search to make sure the same puppy photos aren't being used on other sites. Make sure to try and Facetime with the owners and the puppies.

Better Business Bureau has a number of resources to help you avoid being scammed here.