Pet Scammers Leave Trails

For Shippers · Pet Safety · Pets · 22 November

cats and dogs in a line up

Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission received about 2.1 million fraud reports from online consumers in 2020? And in those cases, there were many pet shipping scams. Unfortunately, many buyers were unable to get back their fees.

So if you’re looking to add a new pet to your family, you might be asking, “How can I tell if a pet shipping company is legit”? Keep reading our guide to find out how to spot a pet shipping scam.

Types of Pet Shipping Scams

There are multiple ways consumers can get scammed by fake pet shipping companies. For starters, some pet shipping scams involve falsifying pet records to make the pet seem younger and in good health.

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Other pet shipping scams involve lying about the breed of the pet. Lastly, some pet scams simply take your payment and then block you.

But now that you know the different types of pet shipping scams, you can start learning about the signs of a pet shipping scam.

The Signs of Pet Shipping Scams

When trying to purchase a pet online, you must know how scammers work. So let’s dive into the signs of an online pet scam!

For starters, some scammers will offer a free pet but they will charge you for the shipping costs. This scam is the most used as many people think they’re getting a good deal! However, in most cases, the pet is never shipped.

Another sign to look out for is sellers who have a sad story to tell. This may seem genuine, but it could just be a ploy to gain your trust and empathy.

Many pet scammers will say they moved or got evicted, and they can no longer afford the pet. Some scammers even take it a step further and say something even more tragic, like their child passed away.

Overall, if the person seems like they’re trying to evoke an emotional response out of you, then consider looking elsewhere or try to get more information to confirm the situation, but don’t pay out any money. . 

Another way people get scammed is by having to do multiple payments.

For example, the pet seller will ask for base pay to cover the transportation fees and the price of the pet. However, while delivering the pet, they will ask for additional funds. They may say that the airline is requiring different forms of protection, such as insurance or a temperature-controlled crate.

Always say no to these demands and report them to your bank or to the police. They may even threaten to call the police on you for “animal abandonment.” However, this is just a ruse to get more money out of you.

How to Safely Ship a Pet

Not all sellers are masterminding a puppy shipping scam. Some are genuinely trying to rehome a pet, or they run a legitimate breeding business. With all of that considered, let’s look at how you can safely buy and ship a pet online.

If you’re buying a pet online, look for animals that are associated with an organization. For example, the SPCA or a verified third-party website. Stay away from unverified online announcements, as these are mostly not credible.

If you can, schedule a video chat with the seller. If someone is hesitant or has an excuse for not wanting to video chat—run! Once you think you’ve found a credible seller, work with the seller to find a safe delivery service.

You want to find a pet delivery company with a verified and user-rated service. For example, some companies have insurance coverage to ensure the safe delivery of your pet. 

You should also make sure the drivers are fully licensed and trained. Finally, ask if they offer refunds, 24/7 support, and a driver replacement if applicable.

All of these factors will ensure that your new pet gets to your home in a safe and timely manner. These services can also be used when you’re moving cross-country or even to a different country.

What To Do if You’re the Victim of an Online Pet Scam

Unfortunately, even after following all the correct steps, you could still fall victim to an online pet scam. Here are some things to do if you find yourself in that situation:

If it’s been more than two weeks since the purchase and you haven’t received any updates from the seller, start compiling a report. You’ll want to have screenshots of any messages between you and the seller. Also, save the seller’s profile picture and name if possible.

Once you have your evidence, call your bank and report the transaction as fraudulent. Some banks will refund you and report the company or seller. However, if your bank doesn’t refund you, there are a couple of actions you can take. This is also a good time to mention that you should always pay with a method that allows you to chargeback or recover funds such as a credit card or Paypal, rather than Zelle or Venmo.

First, you can report the seller to the website where they are posted. Most websites take fraud very seriously, so they should offer you a refund and ban the seller.

However, if the seller and the website are both fraudulent, odds are you’ll never even speak with a representative. In this case, you’ll need to report this case to the police department, using their website or non-emergency line. 

Most counties have an internet fraud department, and they might be able to prosecute the seller. However, be aware that this will take time. In some cases, the seller is never caught.

Finally, you could report the seller to the Federal Trade Commission. You will be asked to provide information regarding:

  • Your contact information, such as your name and phone number
  • More information about the company and seller
  • The type of product or service you purchased
  • How much you paid 
  • How you paid for the service or product  
  • The exact date you made the transaction

Once you’ve input all of this information, a representative should start working on your case. Be aware that this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get your money back. You can hope that at least the seller will be banned or charged with fraud.

Safe and Fast Pet Delivery 

Pet shipping scams are becoming more prevalent. But now that you know how to spot a pet shipping scam, you’re less likely to fall victim to these frauds.

If you have found the pet of your dreams and are ready to have her or him delivered to you, you can request a quote from CitizenShipper today.

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