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Buying a pet? Do this first or you could get scammed

Imagine buying a pet that doesn’t even exist. Unfortunately, that’s happening more often than ever before.

Pet fraud has skyrocketed since COVID-19 began. The Better Business Bureau says people lost $3 million to puppy scams in 2020.

Here’s how it happens. People are getting the pandemic blues, so they search for furry friends. They’re buying dogs online and driving across the country to pick up their pooch.

When they ring the doorbell, the homeowner has bad news…

There’s no dog for them to pick up. It was all a lie.

People are spending up to $1,500 on dogs they see online. For some reason, the scammers are sending their victims to Nebraska addresses. If you find a puppy website that sends you to an Omaha address, run — it’s most likely a scam.

There were almost five times as many puppy scams in 2020 as there were in 2017, the BBB reports. It’s a scary trend that may increase as the pandemic continues. And that’s a doggone shame.

If you want a new dog, keep an eye peeled for signs of a scam. Here are three tips to stay safe

  • Don’t spend money before seeing a pet in person: If the seller won’t video call, there is likely no pet for sale.
  • Reverse image search the pet’s photo: You may see it’s on another website. Tap or click here for ways to do a reverse image search.
  • Search for a distinctive phrase in the description: Scammers often steal pet information from legitimate websites. If you see the same pictures or phrases on multiple websites, it’s probably a rip-off.
  • Research normal prices for the breed you want: Is someone advertising a purebred dog for free or a deep discount? If it sounds too good to be true, it’s likely a lie.
  • Check out a local animal shelter online: These government websites can arrange an in-person meeting with a pet before adoption.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, folks. But with a few safety precautions, you don’t have to worry about being taken to the pound with one of these devious puppy scams!

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