Better Business Bureau: Don't let puppy love blind you from online scammers
The Better Business Bureau warns dog lovers to be cautious when responding to online or newspaper classified advertising. Commonly, a scammer - posing as a breeder - will place an ad offering free or inexpensive puppies.
Communicating solely through emails, the scammer may claim they are moving to a foreign country and need to "re-home" the puppies.
Consumers may be taken in by the sincerity of the scammers. The con artist may say they don't care about money and just want to find a good home for their beloved puppies.
Then, the scammers will ask for fees to cover shipping or re-homing the pet. These scammers may also try to take advantage of the buyer's identity by probing for personal information like your birthday, address and phone number - all while masking it as "getting to know who's buying their puppies."
Often, sellers will request a wire transfer or prepaid debit card for payment. These are red flags that should be avoided, or you may end up without your money or puppy.
The bureau offers this advice when considering the purchase of a pet:
Do your research. Ask for the breeder's references. You can also check BBB.org to see details about complaints against the breeder, advertising issues and other details about the seller.
Visit the breeder first. It is essential to visit the breeder at their home to see the entire litter, the care and conditions given to the puppies prior to purchasing. This will allow you to see if the environment is clean and healthy for the puppies.
Beware of breeders who seem overly concerned with getting paid. Any reputable breeder will be far more concerned with the appropriateness of the potential pet home than what and when they are getting paid. Make sure you have clear expectations - ideally in writing - of how and when the puppy will be paid for. Be especially wary of any breeder who insists you wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.
Don't be fooled by a slick website. Dishonest breeders and even outright scams can be represented by professional-looking websites that lure you in with fraudulent pictures of adorable puppies.
Take your time. Beware of breeders who claim to have multiple breeds ready to ship immediately. It's highly unlikely your perfect puppy will be available for shipping on the day you call. Gestation and socialization of a litter takes months. No puppy should be separated from the mom before 8 weeks of age.
Report a scam. Anyone who has experienced a dog-related scam should report it to local authorities as well as your bureau.
The Better Business Bureau serves Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin.
Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.