The pandemic saw many people staying home and welcoming a furry companion into their lives to help deal with the loneliness and isolation. Here at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, we saw a large number of companion animals find loving homes during lockdown. However, many people fell victim to puppy scams. This week, November 8-12, is Scams Awareness Week and Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA), whom SDCH is the NSW member, have partnered up with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to raise awareness around puppy scams.
Puppy scams can cause a lot of heartbreak and anger and unwittingly involved legitimate businesses in Australia. According to ACCC Scamwatch, Australians have lost nearly $300k to puppy scams last year alone, taking advantage of people who have suffered due to the pandemic. Scamwatch reported a spike in puppy scams almost five times higher than the average last year.
This year, ACCC Scam is encouraging all Australians to talk about scams to increase awareness, educate and empower consumers to protect themselves. “During Scams Awareness Week 2021, we encourage pet lovers to talk about puppy scams and learn how to avoid the heartbreak, loss of money and in some cases, potentially having to surrender their pet to the shelter,” said Trish Ennis, National Executive of CANA.
If you are looking to welcome a new pet into your life and want to avoid falling victim to puppy scams, CANA have put together tips to keep in mind:
- Scammers set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and social media pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds. Email is the only way to contact them.
- Scammers take advantage of travel restrictions that prevent you from travelling to meet the puppy in person. They normally ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you.
- Once you pay the deposit, a scammer will find new ways to ask for more money, such as claiming higher transportation costs to get across interstate borders. Unfortunately, once you make the payments, the seller will cease all contact.
- Scam websites can look quite convincing – try not to fall for the adorable puppy pictures they post. To avoid being scammed, only buy or adopt a pet you can meet in person.
- If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is!
- Research the seller online using the exact wording in the ad and do a reverse image search for pictures of the specific puppy to see if you can find matching images or text on multiple websites.
- If you are in doubt, seek advice from a reputable dog breeders association, veterinarian or local animal shelter.
- For tips to avoid fake websites and a list of fraudulent websites, click here.
- For a guaranteed ‘real pet’ to welcome into your family, contact a CANA member in your state here.
If you think you have been scammed, contact your financial institution right away. For more information, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au
If you’re looking for a guaranteed safe way to welcome a new pet into your home, check out the animals looking for a home on our website.