The Better Business Bureau is warning folks about those online pet sale sites, and the potential for falling victim to scam artists.

I love looking through the online sites, to find pictures of cute little puppies that are up for adoption. It makes me want to take each and every one of them home. But I often wonder about the legitimacy of the ads, especially when the price seems too good to be true. So it caught my eye this morning when I read that the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about crooks who are using those online pet sale sites to scam people out of their money.

Often, in these cases, the 'seller' will ask for money up-front, usually by having it wired to them. The money will supposedly be used for vet checkups, shots, etc. And, if you send it, don't be surprised if they come back and ask for more.

So the BBB has a few tips to help folks avoid falling victim:

  • Never wire money to strangers. Once that money is wired, it's gone. There's no way to get it back. Also avoid using pre-paid debit cards or gift cards for these types of purchases.
  • Never buy a pet unless you've had physical contact with it. The only sure way to know there actually is a puppy or kitty is to be in the same room with it. And, if the seller is willing to meet up with you so you can see the pet, it's more likely they're legitimate. Just seeing a video of the pet is still no indication that the 'seller' is actually in possession of the animal, or is looking to sell it.
  • Do your research. We don't want to compare buying a cute puppy to buying a car, but some of the same principles apply. Research the average price for the breed that you're buying and try to find some information about the seller. If the price of a purebred pup seems too low, that's a pretty good indication that it's a fraud.

Anyone who thinks an online pet ad is a scam should contact the police. There are plenty of reputable places to find pets for adoption, including the Bangor Humane Society and the SPCA of Hancock County. But, if you decide to go with an online site, just do your homework and make sure that puppy or kitty is actually going to come home with you.