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Fight Fraud: Pledge for Pet Safety

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Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

To stay ahead of online pet scams, it's important to recognize the red flags. Take the pledge and spread the word!

Losing a beloved pet is a heartbreaking experience no pet owner wants to face. Unfortunately, in today's digital age, a new threat has emerged—online lost pet scams1. These deceitful schemes prey on vulnerable individuals desperately seeking their lost companions, promising quick reunions but delivering only deception and manipulation.

To combat this alarming trend, it's crucial to recognize the red flags that indicate potential scams: suspicious emails, upfront payments, poor grammar, and lack of verifiable information1. Scammers target your vulnerability, aiming to leave you emotionally and financially devastated.

Understanding the Scam: Exploitation and Deceit

To grasp the gravity of the issue, we need to understand how heartless scammers operate. They meticulously exploit the emotions of distraught pet owners, capitalizing on their vulnerability2. Using email, social media, or online classifieds, they impersonate legitimate organizations, presenting compelling stories with heart-tugging pictures to extract money or personal information from desperate pet owners3.

Emotional manipulation lies at the core of these scams. Scammers ruthlessly exploit the deep bond between pet owners and their furry companions, creating a sense of urgency and demanding immediate action and upfront payment3. In a state of panic, rational thinking becomes clouded, making pet owners more susceptible to their schemes2.

The Devastating Consequences: Emotional and Financial Toll

Falling victim to an online lost pet scam inflicts a profound emotional toll on pet owners. The initial hope of being reunited with their beloved companions is swiftly crushed, leaving behind a sense of betrayal and despair4. The psychological impact can be devastating, leading to feelings of guilt, anger, and profound sadness, exacerbating the emotional distress4.

Financial losses resulting from these scams can be significant and have far-reaching consequences5. Scammers often demand upfront payments, vanishing once the payment is made, leaving pet owners with empty pockets and shattered hopes5. Some individuals may have even taken out loans or emptied their savings accounts, causing long-term hardship and straining relationships5.

The Risk of Personal Information Exposure

In the quest to recover lost pets, individuals may unknowingly provide personal information to scammers6. Under the guise of necessary paperwork or verification processes, fraudsters extract sensitive data like addresses, phone numbers, or even social security numbers6. This puts pet owners at risk of identity theft or further fraudulent activities, causing lasting damage to their financial well-being and personal security6.

Identifying Red Flags: Protecting Yourself

Protecting yourself from online lost pet scams starts with recognizing the warning signs that indicate fraudulent activity7. Pay attention to suspicious email and communication patterns, requests for upfront payments or personal information, poor grammar, and lack of verifiable information or contact details7. These indicators can help you avoid falling victim to these heartless scams.

Take Action: Reduce the Risks

To reduce the risks of lost pet scams, take action and make informed decisions. Research and verify individuals or organizations claiming to have found your lost pet before engaging with them8. Utilize reputable platforms for lost pet postings and maintain privacy by safeguarding personal information9. Educate yourself and others about common scam tactics10, and report scams to relevant authorities and platforms.

You can also take the Pet Scam Pledge and commit to defending yourself, your pets and others from these risks. Take the pledge today and spread the word!


More on this issue:

  1. Jack M Whittaker and Mark Button, Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (17 September 2020), "Understanding pet scams: A case study of advance fee and non-delivery fraud using victims’ accounts."
  2. Taylor Epps, WKBW (9 March 2020), "Beware of lost pet scam."
  3. Ashley Reynolds, KY3 (6 April 2021), "On Your Side: Lost pet scam."
  4. Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., HelpGuide.org (28 March 2023), "Coping with Losing a Pet."
  5. Christina Ianzito, AARP (28 February 2023), "Americans Lost Record-Breaking $8.8 Billion to Scams in 2022."
  6. Australian Securities & Investments Commission (11 October 2021), "Alert: ‘Follow up’ scams – offers to help recover lost funds."
  7. Rob Polansky, Patricia Del Rio and Evan Sobol, WFSB (15 December 2022), "BBB: Be on the lookout for ‘bait-and-switch’ lost pet, child schemes on Facebook."
  8. CrimeStoppers, "How to tell if an e-mail is genuine or a phishing email.."
  9. Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union (1 April 2022), "Scam prevention: Look out for these 7 red flags."
  10. Scambusters.org (2023), "Know The Lingo -- How To Get Wise To Scam Language."
  11. USAgov (4 April 2023), "Where to report a scam."
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The Pledge:

I understand the need for taking proactive measures to protect myself and others from falling victim to pet scams, both online and offline. By pledging to follow these actions, I am committed to creating a safer future for people and their beloved pets:

  1. Research before adopting: I pledge to thoroughly research the adoption process, reputable shelters, and responsible breeders in my area before bringing a new pet into my home.
  2. Visit in person: I pledge to visit the shelter or breeder in person to meet the pet and ensure it is a legitimate operation. I will avoid purchasing or adopting pets without seeing them firsthand.
  3. Verify contact information: I pledge to verify the contact information provided by the seller or adoption agency, such as phone numbers and addresses, to ensure they are legitimate and not fabricated.
  4. Request documentation: I pledge to ask for complete and valid documentation, such as vaccination records, medical history, and registration papers, for the pet I am interested in adopting or purchasing.
  5. Avoid wire transfers: I pledge to refrain from making payments via wire transfers or prepaid gift cards, as these methods are commonly used by scammers. Instead, I will choose secure payment options, such as credit cards or reputable payment platforms.
  6. Conduct online searches: I pledge to conduct online searches using the seller's or agency's name, contact details, and pet descriptions to check for any reports or warnings about potential scams.
  7. Avoid sharing personal information: I pledge to avoid sharing unnecessary personal information, such as social security numbers or financial details, with individuals or websites that I am not familiar with or fully trust.
  8. Report suspicious activity: I pledge to report any suspicious activity or suspected pet scams to relevant authorities, such as local law enforcement, consumer protection agencies, or online platforms.
  9. Promote adoption awareness: I pledge to promote the importance of adoption and responsible pet ownership through sharing information, participating in adoption events, and advocating for ethical pet practices.
  10. Educate others: I pledge to educate my friends, family, and community about the risks and signs of pet scams to help prevent others from falling victim to these fraudulent schemes.

By taking these actions, we can collectively reduce the risk of pet scams and create a safer future for people and their pets. Together, we can ensure that pets find loving homes and that individuals and families can experience the joy of welcoming a furry companion into their lives without the fear of scams and deception.

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