Buyer Beware: How to Spot a Puppy Scammer

The puppy-bug finally bit you and you decided to adopt one. A quick online search lands you on this captivating photo; an adorable little mutt whose gorgeous eyes immediately connect with you. Everything feels right and you cannot contain your excitement as you hit the checkout button.

Did you know that 80% of online puppy ads are likely to be a scam? These scammers know how to tap into the emotions of their victims. A cute photo of an angelic-looking Chihuahua you cannot say no to.

This is why you should never take online puppy ads at face value. It is important to first do your research before getting a puppy. Especially if the deal is too good to be true; and it usually is!

Here are a few things you should know before buying or adopting a puppy online.

1. Are the puppy photos posted anywhere else?

You can always tell an authentic photo of puppies on sale just by looking at it. The photos are usually taken in the puppy’s natural environment either playing or sleeping. Any image that looks overly-edited or pixelated should raise question marks.

Also, find out if the same photos are used anywhere else online. Google has a feature known as a reverse image search that allows you to search for the exact image online. If the photo is used on another website or websites, then you are dealing with a scam.

2. Has the seller given their contacts?

Find out if the puppy seller has left their contacts on their sales page. Can you call the number and speak to an actual person. If the number is rarely picked or goes to voicemail, that’s your cue to move along.

Some scammers will not leave any contacts at all. They insist on communicating via email or any other channel that will not reveal their face or voice. Avoid such scammers at all cost.

3. Is the price too good to be true?

Always research the prices before you start window shopping. The price of a Maltese will not be the same as that of a Chihuahua. Also, a purebred puppy is likely to be more expensive compared to a mixed breed.

Expect to spend $200 to $1000 for a purebred puppy. The price can be higher if the dog is vaccinated and has been feeding on a high-quality diet. Be wary of any seller

4. Do you know the history of the puppy?

What do you know about the litter? Does the seller provide their medical records and information about the puppies’ parents? Many pet lovers have bought puppies that ended up with many health issues. You spend more time in and out of a vet clinic that you have little time to bond with your canine friend.

If you are going to be a puppy, let it be a healthy one with no history of sickness or other health-related concerns. The last thing you want is taking home a puppy with Parvo.

5. Does the seller allow you to see the pet?

Can you drive or walk to the breeder’s home and see the puppies? If the scammer stole the puppies from a legit puppy for sale site, the last thing they want is you smoking out their hideout. Insist on seeing the puppies before buying them. If the seller is hesitant, then they are trying to scam you.

6. The Seller is not a Breeder

Backyard breeders are on the rise. They will use lines like ‘We have way too many puppies with us. We are trying to offload some”, or “We are moving and we cannot travel with our dog and its puppies”. To you, this is the golden pot at the end of the rainbow. Some of these backyard breeders will even give you the dogs for free if you pay for shipment.

Do not fall for these scams. Check if the seller is registered and certified by organizations like the American Kennel Club. Find out how many years of experience they have breeding puppies. This assures you that you are dealing with a reputable puppy breeder who will not scam you.

7. Sellers who insist on down payments

Some sellers will want you to make a down payment before collecting the puppies. They will convince you that they are narrowing down serious buyers or the puppies are on high demand. A good breeder will not be in a hurry to sell their puppies.

Most of them want to meet the buyer before receiving payments. An experienced and legit breeder will interview you to know more about your personality and lifestyle. This helps them know if the puppies will go to a good home or not.

So if the seller on the other end is harassing you for upfront payment, drop them.

8. Sellers that insist you wire the money

A puppy on sale scammer will insist on having the money wired to them. Once you have the money wired, they disappear on you. Other scammers will tell you it is okay to pay in gift cards so you cannot trace them.

Only make your payments on a safe and secure website. The website must have the right encryption (SSL) to ensure financial transactions through the site are safe. These payment websites also have your transaction details saved in case you have to register a complaint later.

9. Seller uses Fake medical Records

Scammers have found ways to forge medical records as well. You are not likely to suspect anything amiss when you are offered a ‘healthy-looking’ puppy with all its medical papers in ‘order’. Because we want you to be safe from scams, always verify those medical records as well.

Visit a professional vet clinic to have the medical records verified. You can also check online organizations like the American Kennel Club to see if the puppies are registered. You will also find the correct medical information of the litter on such sites. You cannot take anyone’s word for it, always double-check medical records.

10. Seller Uses Disposable Cell Phones

A puppy for sale scammer can use a burner phone to dupe unsuspecting buyers. Always check if the phone number given is registered to a trusted user. If no such number appear on cellphone company records, it is burner number. Report such numbers to the right authorities to stop the scammer from duping more buyers.

Final Thoughts

Bringing a new puppy home is the best feeling ever. On the other hand, we do not want you to go through the frustrations of dealing with a puppy for sale scammer. Use the above tips to ensure you are buying legit puppies from a trusted breeder in your area.

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