Social distancing is leading many of us to consider getting a new pet. And why not? If you have time and place for it, a new puppy might be just the thing to get you through the COVID Crisis!

That said, fraudulent activity is on the rise as scammers are enhancing their creativity. Online Puppy Scams are not new in the world of technology, but there has been a significant spike over the last few weeks.

If you do have your heart set on a new critter, we recommend getting it locally where you can meet the owner and the animal before exchanging money. Naked Security gives you 5 tips to go by when considering a new pet:

  • ""Don’t pay in ways that can’t be traced. Thieves almost never take money from credit cards or by personal checks. Instead, they instruct their victims to pay through MoneyGram, Western Union, or with gift cards or other cards with stored value. Don’t fall for it. Using untraceable payment methods is just like sending cash. Once the scammer receives the money, the funds are gone, and it can be virtually impossible to get back your money.
  • Search online for the sender’s email address or mobile phone number. If the same contact details keep showing up elsewhere, that’s a dead giveaway. It may also turn up any bad reviews associated with those contact details. Also, check PetScam’s listings to see if a given breeder’s site is listed as a scam.
  •  Ask for copies of the pet’s inoculation history, breed paperwork, and certification before agreeing to buy it. If the seller is reluctant or unable to provide this information, it could be an indication that either the pet doesn’t exist or that it’s been illegally bred.
  • Buy your pet locally from someone you can meet in person. The ASPCA recommends that you never buy a puppy online: even if you actually get an animal, it could have been mistreated by a “puppy mill” breeder along the way.
  • Don’t let the crooks intimidate you with the “you’ll be criminally charged for animal abandonment if you don’t pay” shtick. John Goodwin, senior director with the US Humane Society, told BBB that while there actually is a criminal charge for animal abandonment, it would never be enforced in this situation. Obviously, you can’t physically abandon a figment of some fraudster’s imagination, no matter what they threaten."

Read the full article here.