BBB: Lost Pet Scams: Are You At Risk? | News

A The loss of a pet is a devastating experience, but the BBB warns pet owners to beware of scammers who defraud bereaved pet owners who have publicly announced the loss of a pet. The ad may help you get your pet back, but it may also expose you to potential scams. Below are some of the most common scams targeting pet owners.

The Pay First Scam: In this scam, the pet owner receives a phone call from a person claiming to have the lost pet in their possession. This person requests that the reward money be sent to them before returning the pet. If the pet owner refuses, he will often threaten to hurt the pet to pressure the pet owner to send money. Once the scammer receives the money, they are never heard from again.

The trucker scam: Someone claiming to be a long-haul trucker tells you that he met your pet on his route. He then asks you to send him money so he can return your pet, or you can ask him to wire you money to house your pet until he can send it back to another trucker headed your way.

The tag team scam: You get a call from someone who says they think they have your pet. After talking to you for a while and getting some information about your pet, they apologize and say they’re sorry, but it turns out it’s not your pet after all. They then give all the information about their pet to a partner. This is a trap: before long, the scammer uses the information received about his pet only for a second person to call and claim to have found his pet, who will try to collect the reward money up front.

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The plane ticket scam: In this scam, someone calls and claims that their pet somehow ended up in another state. They ask you to send money for a kennel and a plane ticket and they will return your pet. Once the pet owner sends the money, the scammer walks away with it, leaving the owner without their pet and less money in their bank account.

Pet Scams: This scam works when the scammer steals pets or claims lost pets for the sole purpose of selling them to unsuspecting buyers. Flyers and classifieds looking for a pet owner can have the unintended consequence of alerting a scammer to a money-making opportunity. Buyers of these pets may never know they were duped.

The BBB offers the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of a pet loss scam:

If you must place an ad, include only essential information. Refrain from providing information about unique brands or physical attributes.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be out of state, ask for a phone number where you can call them back. Scammers usually don’t want you to know your personal information.

If a caller claims to have your pet in their possession, ask them to describe something about the pet that would not be visible in the images, which may have been posted. You can also ask them to send you a current photo of the pet for you to review.

Ask to make a video call so you can confirm that the pet really belongs to you.

Never transfer money or use a prepaid debit card to pay someone you don’t know. This is a common thread in many types of scams.

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Always request registration paperwork and a bill of sale when purchasing a new pet.

Consider having your veterinarian implant an identification microchip in your pet to increase his chances of recovery.

For more tips you can trust, visit

Kelvin Collins is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 77 counties in eastern Alabama, western Georgia, southwestern Georgia, central Georgia, eastern Georgia, and western South Carolina. This advice column is provided by local BBBs and the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB). The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance, and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific business or charity should be directed to the BBB directly at phone: 1-800-763-4222, website: or email: [email protected]