Avoiding Pet Scams

5 pet scams you need to know about to help protect your pet — and your wallet: Internet ScamBusters #114

Today’s issue is a bit different — it deals with pet scams. If you have a pet, you definitely want to read today’s issue to help protect your pet from dangerous pet scams.

We think you’ll find some of these pet scams startling — a few of these pet scams certainly surprised us when we first heard them!

But first, a quick note: we got a lot of positive feedback on last week’s issue on Internet privacy and Google. If you didn’t read it, you can check it out here.

Two clarifications: 1) If you type your phone number into Google and nothing comes up, that means your number is not listed in Google’s phonebook. 2) You should not have to pay for this info — if you’re asked to pay, you’ve somehow clicked on an ad.

Important: If you didn’t make it to the other article on Internet privacy we recommended at the end of last week’s issue, we highly recommend you do it now. It’s a valuable guide for keeping your information private.

Finally, we’ve had a lot of questions lately about banking safely and online banking scams. If you’d like to read about bank scams, click here.

OK, on to today’s issue on pet scams…

Pet Scams: How Not to Become a Victim

If you have ever loved — and then lost — a pet, you know how devastating the experience can be. If you are then a victim of pet scams, the loss is even more devastating.

There are unscrupulous people who have found ways to capitalize on your lost pet situation in order to dupe you out of money. Here are a few of the ways this can happen:

Pet Scam #1. If you have placed an ad in a local paper about your lost pet, and particularly if you offered a reward, you may get a call from someone claiming to have found your pet.

The caller wants the reward in advance, though, and if you refuse to pay, they’ll threaten to harm your pet to put the pressure on so you’ll pay up.

Pet Scam #2. Again, in response to an ad placed by you, you may get a call from someone who claims to be a trucker who found your injured animal as he was driving through the area.

He claims that your pet needed vet care, which he has taken care of and paid for, but he needs you to wire him the money so he can pick your pet up and send it back with another trucker in the same company who is driving back your way. Of course, you’ll not only need to wire the money, but give this scammer your name and address, too.

Pet Scam #3. Your lost pet ad prompts a call from someone who claims to have found an animal that might be yours. In the process of exchanging descriptions, the caller will say that he’s found a different animal, not yours. He’ll apologize for your loss, and for taking your time.

This is a set-up — in a short time, he uses the information he’s gotten about YOUR pet to have a second person call and claim to have found your pet. Again, he’ll try to collect any reward money in advance.

Pet Scam #4. Your lost pet ad prompts a call from someone who precisely describes your pet, and wants to return it to claim the reward. In reality, your pet has been STOLEN by this person, who knew you would run an ad!

Pet Scam #5. In a bizarre twist, scammers also respond to ‘found’ ads with the claim that you have found their pet. When you return the found pet, it may be destined for a death at a research facility!

There are certainly other pet scams, but these are some of the most insidious.

In order to prevent these scammers from taking your money or harming your pet, here are a few things you can do:

1. Make sure your pet is always properly licensed and tagged.

2. Keep your pet indoors, in a secure yard, or on a leash at all times.

3. If you must place an ad, include only the essential information.

4. If you get a call from someone who claims to be out-of-state, ask them for a phone number where you can call them back.

5. If a caller appears to be ‘fishing’ for information about your pet, make THEM initiate the questions or comments about your pet’s description.

6. If you’ve found a pet and someone claims it belongs to them, before you return the pet, ask for some kind of documentation that the pet actually belongs to them — ownership or breeding papers, records from the vet, or even family photos.

If you have lost a pet, don’t make your grief even worse by falling for any these cold-hearted pet scams!


That’s it for now. Keep your pets safe. Wishing you a great week…