Pet Travel Scams: Taking a well-earned holiday with your pet is something that everyone looks forward to. Now, more than ever as we have been stuck inside isolating, too worried to travel, or just didn’t think it was the best time to go. Holiday seekers are now looking to get back to what they love most; international travel!
Many families purchase or adopt a pet during this year, and there has been a boom in pet ownership during COVID with more people staying at home and having time to play with their pets at home. Many people are looking online for free / cheap pets for sale or puppies for sale.
Also, this year more than ever, many people are relocating domestically or internationally (with pets) to try and be closer to family, or try and find a job during an economic downturn.
However, as you hunt for the perfect deal, criminals are looking for the perfect opportunity to scam you. Let’s have a look at how you can avoid this.
Pet Travel Scams, How can someone scam me?
There are different types of Pet scams to be on the lookout for. Two common types of scams are common:
- Pet delivery scams
- Pet relocation scams
Pet Delivery Scams
This is the most common scam according to internet studies. For every pet lover, in particular dog-lovers, someone is waiting for you to choose the advertisement that shows your new dream dog. It’s the perfect size, age, breed, and it doesn’t seem to be too far away! The only problem is that the dog doesn’t actually exist.
If you are buying a new dog online and you’re looking for it to be delivered, many scammers will take the money and disappear from the internet. How this works is the scammer hopes that you live too far away and are relying on the dog being transported to you. They will take the payment and insist that the animal is currently being shipped to you. However, they are simply taking your hard-earned money and they never had the animal in the first place.
It’s always best to make sure you have seen the animal first prior to arranging a long-distance purchase. You should check the person is real and that all the relevant documentation is correct and accounted for.
Pet Relocation Scams
Someone wants to arrange to get your pet booked, packed, and comfortable for international travel for a small fee? This probably sounds too good to be true, given that there are a lot of restrictions in place depending on what country you’re travelling to. Unfortunately, it probably is. Scammers have taken to praying on people who find making pet travel bookings too difficult and have a way of persuading you to leave it to them.
A pet relocation scam will promise to make sure all the documentation is checked and agreed with the airline provider, ensure that a crate will be provided, and promise that your pet will be booked in and ready to go. However, it turns out that they actually just want you to pay them for a service they are unable to offer.
In today’s society, it’s much easier for people to advertise scams on social media, advertisement services, or even by sending you their offers by email.
How do I avoid getting scammed?
There are a few ways to detect a scam, but you’ll need to be vigilant.
A common procedure for a scammer is to use a free-of-charge email provider such as MSN, Google Mail, or Yahoo as some examples. Thankfully, spam filters are now pretty good at catching these from entering your main inbox, however, some may still come through.
Even with an email like this, it could still be a legitimate service, but it will be up to you to do your research into the company to see if any scams have taken place. If a service has very few reviews or the reviews don’t have any personal feedback, it’s unlikely to be a real company.
Another thing to be aware of is the spelling and grammar of the advert. If someone has sent you a fantastic deal but there are common spelling mistakes and words that have been put together that don’t make any sense, this is also likely to be a scam.
To be as thorough as possible before handing over your money, it might be best to consider booking directly with the company rather than going through a third-party website. Whilst some websites do have the ability to save you money, you run the risk of the website being fraudulent or at the very least, distributing your personal information.
Scammers will also request that your payment is done via PayPal or a similar service such as Western Union. They will also likely request it to be done via bank or wire transfer to make it as untraceable as possible. You should always make sure that you are making a payment that is fully traceable such as a card payment paid directly to the company.
You may also find the person offering the service may use hard selling tactics similar to phone sales. They will make you an offer you can’t refuse or think of a reason why the money should be paid to them as fast as possible.
Another great idea is to make sure you contact the seller and ask plenty of questions. If they aren’t clued up on what they are selling, you will find that they will slip up or are not able to answer your questions. If they are legitimate, they should be able to answer any questions relating to country restrictions or weight limits, or airline-related questions.
How to recognize a professional pet shipper
Choose an agent that has some ‘trust factors’ that make them stand out. For example www.ferndalekennels.com has:
- Been around for more than 20 years – a company that has been around for a long time is highly experienced and knows how to deal with any problems that may arise
- IPATA member since 1997 (The International Pet and Animal Association (IPATA) is a non-profit trade association of independent members who are dedicated to the safe and humane transport of pets and other animals.)
- Veterinarian owned
- A lot of testimonials on their website and a large Facebook community
These are all ‘trust factors’ that make helping to choose them easy. Check out your pet shipper, or the puppy breeder, has some kind of credentials like above, and check with another source like a related organization or a past client, to see if they are reliable. Do their goals align with your own? Is the organisation experienced?
As the internet becomes more popular and more accessible, and we find pets or companies online rather than only by word of mouth, scams also become more difficult to detect and far more common. To protect yourself as much as possible, consider using a professional pet relocation service by browsing online or by using an airline provider’s website. These services will have hundreds of reviews from satisfied customers and if you’re still not sure, you can always give them a call and they will be able to answer any questions you might be unsure about.
A highly professional service will likely not be very cheap, this generally indicates that the company is authentic as scammers will be aware of this and tend to offer a very low price in comparison. Make sure you fully research the service you intend to use for pet travel to ensure that you are getting the best rates and don’t get scammed!