BBB Tip: How to avoid becoming a victim of a pet scam

If you are looking to add a pet to your family, be on the lookout for scams. As consumers turn to the internet to find new pets, experts warn that a shocking 80% of online sponsored pet advertisements may be fake!

Follow these tips from the Better Business Bureau to avoid falling for a scam:

Do your research | Only purchase a pet from a reputable dealer or rescue organization. Check Better Business Bureau profiles on for complaints and customer reviews about the entity you are considering purchasing from before you make the buy.

Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person | If that’s not possible, request a live video call to view the animal, meet the breeder, and evaluate the facility. Often times, pet scammers will refuse to do this because they don’t actually have an animal to sell.

Conduct a reverse image search of the photo of the pet you are considering | If the same picture appears on multiple websites, it’s likely a fraud. You can also search for distinctive text from ads or testimonials to see if the seller copied it from another website.

Avoid wiring money or using a cash app or gift card to pay | These payment methods offer no way to get your money back if you are a victim of a fraud. If a seller refuses to accept traditional payment methods, consider it a red flag.

Do some research to get a sense of a fair price for the breed you are considering | Think twice if someone advertises a purebred dog or cat or an exotic animal for free or at a deeply discounted price, even if they claim they are simply “rehoming” the pet. This could signal a fraudulent offer for a pet that does not exist.

Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter or rescue organization | Shelters are full of wonderful animals in need of a loving home. In addition, many shelters are looking for foster families to temporarily care for animals until adoptive families can be found. Fostering can help relieve overcrowding and give stressed out dogs and cats a break from shelter life.

If you think you have been scammed, report it to:

For more information and tips on how to avoid puppy scams, visit the latest BBB Scam Study about this issue.

This content originally appeared on the Better Business Bureau website at