How to Spot Fake Pet Ads
There are many scams out there, and the latest one includes websites that pretend to sell pets that don’t really exist. Before you buy a pet online, be sure to check the websites to lower your chances of emptying your wallet and breaking your heart.
Pay attention to suspiciously low prices.
Scammers want to get your attention and one of the ways they stand out from the crowd is with prices that you will look at twice. Since they don’t actually own pets and don’t actually compete in this market, they charge ridiculously low prices. If this looks too good to be true, proceed with extreme caution.
Dead links on social media pages
Most websites have an “About Us” section that provides information about the company and talks about its employees, and most fake websites also have them – complete with logos on their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. But these logos may simply redirect back to the fake website’s home page, or the social media logos may not link anywhere at all. Some advanced fake websites have the problem of creating fake social media profiles, but these are usually easy to recognize as fake – look for subtle inactive pages.
They ask you to pay through Zelle or other similar applications.
Paying for anything with Zelle is extremely risky and you should never do this with people you don’t know. The same can be said for Venmo peer-to-peer transactions, PayPal friends and family, and any other form of payment that has no refund option if something goes wrong. If your seller insists on using these forms of payment instead of something more secure like PayPal products and services, consider that a clear red flag.
Always google company information first
Always look for the company name followed by the word “scam” or “reviews”. The first search result will usually be the main website, but the sites below it should indicate if there are victims and what their experience is. Of course, keep in mind that there is a difference between a bad customer experience and a real scam.
Use the Better Business Bureau Fraud Tracker
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) scam tracker is grossly underrated. You can search any website and see if anyone has reported it to the BBB as a potential scam. You can also read their stories about being scammed by the business. Just search for the company name in the keywords toolbar.
Make sure your tracking number is real
Be wary of third party shipping sites that seem sketchy. Most pet scam sites have a subsite that pretends to offer pet delivery, and some even go so far as to provide a tracking number. Most of them ask for strange requests, such as paying for a specific pet carrier or paying extra for vaccination records and other title deeds. Never pay for anything until you have a tracking number that you have verified with reputable carriers such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS. Do not trust the link with the tracking number – instead, enter the tracking number on the official website of the postman.