Red Flags for Scams Tips

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How do I avoid online puppy breeder scams?

Avoid Online Puppy Breeder Scams

As you search for a puppy, you may notice that some breeders are super accommodating. Door to door delivery with the entire payment up front by Western Union, next day delivery, or incredible low prices on beautiful looking puppies can all be signs that you are dealing with online puppy breeder scams.

The best way to avoid scams is to realize that there is a reason this breeder is so helpful. That door to door delivery? The breeder, who doesn't actually own dogs at all and probably lives in a third world country, is going to take the money you wired through Western Union and go on a shopping spree. Instead of a new puppy, you will receive crushed dreams and a much emptier bank account.

That beautiful puppy you are buying for a quarter of the price all the other breeders charge? You're looking at photos of some other breeder's puppy and will be getting a dog that actually looks more like a creation by Dr. Frankenstein.

Protect yourself from common scams by:

  • Asking the breeder to take a picture of the puppy you want to buy with a newspaper with that day's date on it prominently displayed in the photo.
  • Requesting that the breeder accept payment through an escrow service, which offers you both protection during the transaction.

Do I need to worry about online dog breeder scams?

Online Dog Breeder Scams

You've heard to be wary of online dog breeder scams if you search for your new puppy online, but you have no idea how to identify scams. What are you supposed to be wary of here? There are actually several scams that involve puppy sales, but common sense and a bit of research can help you avoid most scammers.

The most common scam involves cashier's checks. The seller, who often actually has no dogs at all, will tell you that someone he or she knows needs to have a cashier's check cashed. Stories range from the other person being stuck in Nigeria and being unable to get money out of the country because the government won't let it leave along with the person to the seller not having a bank account and needing to cash a check from a previous buyer.

The check is usually for much more than the puppy's purchase price and the seller will say that you seem like an honest person and then will ask you to simply send the extra money with your purchase amount. Unfortunately, these checks are bad and you will soon find that your bank account is looking downright anemic because you are stuck covering the bad check.

Is it a bad idea to visit a big dog breeding operation to see a lot of different types of dogs?

Dog Breeding Can Be a Big, Bad Business

You came across a kennel that had a litter of Cocker Spaniel puppies for sale near you. However, you weren't sure you wanted a Cocker, so you searched for puppies in a few other breeds before you made a final decision on a breed. To your surprise, that kennel had a litter of every single breed available at the same time. That is one big dog breeding operation and you're excited to be able to see puppies from all the breeds you are interested in at one place so close to home. It is great news, isn't it?

Actually, it is not great news. You've probably stumbled upon a puppy mill right in your back yard. There are plenty of bad things about puppy mills that counteract the convenience of seeing a lot of puppies in one place, such as the way parent dogs are housed in small kennels and have one litter after another until they are old and worn out well before their time. Buying a puppy from one of these money making operations helps it stay in business.

If you really want to see a lot of different dogs all at one time, head for the nearest all breed dog show. You'll get to see the best examples of each breed in your area and will know what to look for when you shop for your puppy. In fact, after you decide on the breed that is right for you, you may discover that one of the breeders at the show has a pet quality puppy available.

Should I verify breeder contact information?

Verify Breeder Contact Information

You found a breeder through and someone told you that breeders that sell online are scammers and you will lose your money if you go through with the deal. Is the other person right? Should you look locally for a puppy? Actually, while some people do operate puppy selling scams online, many very ethical breeders sell beautiful, show quality puppies online. After all, when you live in an Alaskan town with a population of 75, the locals just aren't going to provide enough homes for puppies that you aren't keeping. One way to be sure you aren't being scammed is to verify breeder contact information.

It is such a simple, obvious thing to do that many people shopping for a puppy online completely overlook it. After all, who would be foolish enough to say they live in Oregon if they actually live in Europe or Africa? Surprisingly enough, this is just what scam artists are counting on you to think. When you check up on contact information, you can weed out quite a few scams. Here are a few ways to verify information a breeder gives you:

  • Ask for a phone number and call it. Then, do a reverse lookup of the number. Not all numbers have current information, but if the breeder says he or she is in a completely different state than the reverse lookup information reveals the breeder to be, back away from the deal.
  • Ask the breeder to mail you a guarantee paper to sign and then mail it back. When you get the item, don't forget to check the postal cancelation mark.

Should puppy buyer beware be my motto as I shop for a puppy?

Puppy Buyer Beware

Western Union scams, puppy mills, sick dogs...the list of things that can go wrong when you shop for a new puppy is endless. Instead of seizing the day, anyone looking for a new puppy should have a motto of puppy buyer beware. Before you decide to avoid the whole thing and just buy another stuffed animal, try some of these common sense puppy scam busters:

  • Use more than one form of communication. If you're communicating by email, the breeder should offer to talk to you over the phone after the first email or so back and forth. After all, a legitimate breeder checks out potential owners just as closely as they check out breeders. While you're listening for the sound of a lot of dogs in the background to flush out a puppy mill passing as a breeder, the breeder is listening right back to screen out puppy mills after his or her puppies.
  • Don't pay by cash or by wire transfer. Credit card transactions protect you from unscrupulous breeders. If a breeder doesn't accept credit cards, suggest Paypal, which makes it easy for him or her to handle cards. Better yet, protect yourself even further by suggesting that you use an escrow service.
  • If you don't feel comfortable, walk away. You may be subconsciously picking up on some clues that the breeder is dishonest. Let your instincts protect you from smooth talking scam artists.

Should I report suspected dog breeding scams?

Report Dog Breeding Scams

You've been passing emails back and forth with a breeder and felt uneasy. When he or she mentioned that a friend needed help cashing a cashier's check, you knew your fears were justified. Grateful that you spotted the fraud before it was too late, you moved on in search of a more ethical person and simply put the scammer out of your mind. Sure, you did feel a moment of guilt because the scammer could fool someone else, but it isn't like you can do anything about it, right?

Actually, you should always report dog breeding scams when you come across them. While the authorities may not be able to catch the scammer using just your information, they may be putting together a case using information from many people who have lost their money or have come close to losing it. You may just provide a little piece, but it could be the piece they need. It can be a bit embarrassing to admit you almost were taken in, but if it saves one person from the heartache of actually going through with the scammer's plans, it is worth a blush or two, right?

Places to contact about a fraud or a suspected fraud are your local police force, the Better Business Bureau for the breeder's state and the Federal Trade Commission. Sometimes, the FBI is involved, especially if the scam crosses state lines. A call to the state DA's office that the breeder resides in can't hurt, either.

Are there any tips for avoiding puppy mills?

Avoiding Puppy Mills

As you search for the perfect puppy, you'll probably come across one of the most deplorable things about dog breeding - puppy mills. Unlike show or hobby breeders, puppy mills breed large numbers of dogs in less than ideal situations in order to make money. Often the parent dogs are poor specimens of the breed, since reputable breeders try to make it hard for puppy mills to get their puppies for breeding stock. Luckily, there are several tips for avoiding puppy mills.

  • Ask plenty of questions. After you get answers, ask more questions. Many times, a puppy mill owner trying to pass as a small breeder will let something slip that will give you a clue that the puppies you are considering were raised in the puppy mill.
  • Make sure you have the kennel's name and call the Better Business Bureau for that state to ask about complaints.
  • Run a search for the name of the kennel online. If it has been in the news or is under investigation, something may just pop up in the search results.
  • Go with your instincts. If you feel uneasy about the breeder, keep looking until you find a breeder you don't feel uneasy about.

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