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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Pet scams increase with e-commerce growth

UPDATED: Fri., March 30, 2018

By Lauren Hall Marketplace Manager

If you are looking for a pet to add to your family, be on the lookout for scams. As more consumers turn to the internet to find new pets, more scams are popping up online.

Most puppy scam victims are hooked into the scam through photos of cuddly terriers, miniature bulldogs or other puppies. In the typical scam, thieves impersonate pet sellers and instruct potential buyers to make upfront payments for shipping, insurance and other fees associated with transporting the animals. In most cases, buyers never receive the pets and lose their money.

Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific is issuing a warning to consumers regarding a pattern of complaints concerning Corona, Calif., online pet retailer Paw Prime, which is also operating under the newly created name Affinity Pets. BBB recently opened an investigation against Paw Prime because of a pattern of complaints and an inability to get a response from the company’s owners.

Paw Prime currently has 110 total customer complaints, with 106 of those going unanswered, 56 negative customer reviews and zero positive or neutral reviews. Since January 2017, consumers shopping through Paw Prime have reported an estimated $3,000 in loses.

BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to purchase a pet:

Research any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.

If possible, try to pick up the puppy in person. Puppy scams depend on buyers trusting that the animals will be delivered to them.

Be careful about buying a puppy from anyone you don’t know, and be especially skeptical if the price is much lower than normal.

Avoid wiring money or using prepaid cards or gift cards to pay for transporting animals. Instead, pay by credit card in case you need to challenge the purchase later.

Research pet adoption requirements in your area. Get a good grasp on what fees, permits and licenses are required by your local government and know whether they should be collected by the seller or government.

Consider getting a rescue dog if having a purebred dog is not a priority. Generally, rescues are less expensive than purebred pets and often have fewer health problems.

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