With record numbers of Australians looking to acquire a puppy, it is the perfect recipe for fraudsters to con would be pooch parents.

The consumer watchdog reported that Australians were conned out of more than $3 million in 2021, so PETspot has revealed their top tips in ensuring potential owners don’t fall victim to a scam.

Nick Figliano, CEO of PETspot, said that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Although a breeder might claim to be responsible, we always recommend doing your own research to ensure the breeder is who they say they are.”

Some ‘too good to be true’ tell-tale signs include:

  • The price is well below market rate.
  • Ads that say that the puppy is ‘free’ if you pay for shipping.
  • Puppies for sale are younger than two months old.
  • Promises the pet will be transported directly to you after a small up-front ‘deposit’, which often result in requests for multiple extra payments to cover unexpected costs, additional shipping fees or vet bills.

Figliano advised to reverse search images of puppies to ensure the images haven’t been used in other sources or are from stock image websites.

“Try to find reviews of the breeder online or check with a reputable breeder’s association. Scammers often put pages up and take them down quickly, so if you think you see something that’s not quite right take a screenshot of it and report it to Scam Watch.”

Acquiring a puppy is an emotional decision, and Figliano said we do crazy things when we’re in love with our potential new pet.

“If you’re serious about purchasing from a breeder online, ask if you can come to visit the puppy. While some breeders may not allow prospective buyers to visit their homes for security and safety reasons, the pandemic has taught up there are plenty of ways we can connect virtually.

“If you’re dealing with a breeder who won’t chat on the phone or have a video call with you, that’s a huge red flag.”

If you’re still unsure, PETspot are there to help connect reputable breeders to well-informed, well-prepared prospective puppy owners.

“We have created a strenuous code of ethics to fact-check dog breeders which includes providing proof of registration with regulatory bodies, showing health tests of the litter of puppies and an identity check.”

PETSpot now has more than 400 authenticated breeders on its platform.

“We also created Australia’s first secure puppy payment system, PETspot Pay, that ensures you’re working directly with a responsible breeder and you’re protected when placing secure puppy payments.

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