The #1 scam reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is online purchases. Of these reports, online pet fraud ranked number one.

Keep that in mind as tomorrow, Friday, March 23rd, is National Puppy Day.

The Director of the Rockford Regional office of the BBB, Dennis Horton, dropped me an email explaining why, if you're in the market for a puppy, you need to be very careful about online dog shopping.

“Making a hasty decision to purchase a dog can make consumers more vulnerable to scammers”, says Dennis Horton director, or the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.“Scammers prey on people's emotions and occasions like buying a new puppy always come with excitement. But that excitement can quickly turn into despair if consumers do not proceed with caution and do their research first,” Horton added.

One of the first places prospective puppy owners turn for research is the internet. A BBB International Investigations Initiative study called “Puppy Scams: How Fake Online Pet Sellers Steal from Unsuspecting Pet Buyers,” provides important information if considering a pet purchase online.

The study describes how some puppy scammers build websites using stolen pictures and content from reputable breeders or online puppy sources and promise to send a puppy after they receive payment. Many complaints involved people wiring money through Western Union or Money Gram to scammers for pets they never received. The initial cost for the pet is usually low. The perpetrators also may ask for money for shipping costs.

Most scammers discovered in this study were found to be located internationally and do not typically provide a domestic phone number. BBB urges consumers not to pay money or give personal information to un-vetted websites like these. Typically, the advertised puppies do not exist.

As mentioned earlier, online purchases are the number one reported scam to the BBB, and in 2017, consumers filed more than 200 complaints with BBB against dog breeders in the United States and Canada.