Pet parents just want what’s best for their fur babies, especially when planning their pet travel arrangements. But increasingly fraudsters are looking to take advantage of people by targeting and scamming victims online with pet travel scams. Whether you’re looking to buy a pet online or to organise pet transport abroad, you must stay vigilant to protect yourself from scams.
Types of scams
Scams will either state that they will deliver a new pet for you that doesn’t exist or advertise that they can organise your pet travel when they have no intention of doing so. Scammers have a few ways in which they can target victims.
Sometimes victims are contacted directly using social media, often seeking out vulnerable people who are linked to animal welfare or breed-specific groups. The victim will then pass on their personal email address where correspondence continues. Sometimes adverts will be posted online promoting the fake pet or travel service, with the victims making first contact.
Sometimes a fake website or a fake email address is set up that uses a reputable company name and logo in an attempt to legitimise themselves. Unfortunately, it is easy for scammers to get another company’s details to make themselves look like a trustworthy organisation.
How to recognise a pet travel scam
Whilst some scammers use well-known brand names, there may be minor alterations or typos in the name. The email address may be from a free to use account, like Google or Hotmail. Typically, a legitimate company will not use these types of email accounts and will instead use their own domain, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Often the scam adverts or webpages will have lots of spelling and grammar mistakes, which is a huge red flag. A reputable pet travel company won’t have a website or communications that are littered with typos.
Another way to recognise a pet travel scam is if you are asked to pay via money transfer methods like PayPal or Western Union. These are usually untraceable and non-refundable. The fraudster might put pressure on the victim to pay money quickly, normally with some sort of sob story about why they need the money fast.
How to avoid pet travel scams
Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can avoid being victim to a pet travel scam:
• Do you own web search for the company and webpage to check if it’s legit.
• Do a web search of the exact wording of the advert or first message from the potential scammer. Sometimes this can find well-known scams that others have already identified.
• Contact the company directly. If a reputable company name is being used, find the contact details through your own web search and call the company to speak with them.
• Pay attention to the details. Look out spelling and grammar mistakes in communications.
• Ask questions. A legitimate pet travel agency will be able to fully answer all your questions regarding your pet’s travel. A scammer may evade answering or provide vague responses.
• Avoid upfront payments via Pay Pal or bank transfer. Always use a traceable method of payment.
• Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, there’s a high chance something is amiss! Don’t be pressured into paying money if you’re uncomfortable.
• Only use a trusted pet travel agent. PBS Pet Travel is one of the most established pet transporters in the world, so contact us for your pet transport needs.
What to do if you think you’ve found a pet travel scam
If you think someone is trying to scam you, do not transfer them any money or give them any of your personal details.
If you’ve been victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.