(WHTM) — More than four million dogs and cats are adopted each year in the United States. If you’re looking for a pet online, chances are good you’ll find a scam at some point.

Approximately 70% of the people targeted by pet scams lost more than $700. AARP Says these are the warning signs for pet adoption scams:

  • The asking price is far below the normal rate
  • They insist on shipping the animal and refuse to meet in person
  • Emails from the seller have poor spelling and grammar
  • The seller demands payment by money transfer, gift card or prepaid debit card
  • And the delivery of your pet is continually held up by demands
  • That you wire more money to cover insurance, pet food or vet care

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You should research what reputable breeders are charging for the breed of animal you are interested in. Search for the seller’s email and web address to see if there are any online complaints associated with them.

A large number of pet adoption scam victims are in their late teens or 20s.

AARP says:

  • Don’t buy or adopt a pet unless you can meet it in person
  • Don’t be swayed by authentic-looking websites
  • Scammers swipe photos, videos and testimonials from legitimate pet sites, and create fake web pages
  • Don’t deal with someone who doesn’t provide a phone number and wont take payment by credit card
  • And don’t believe threats that the animal will suffer or you will face criminal charges if you don’t continue sending money

You can also consider adopting from a local animal shelter, rescue group, or humane society.

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