SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says in a newly released survey the number of pet scams has gone down compared to previous years. 

The organization says while that’s good, the amount of money taken from buyers in those scams has gone up. 

“Losses are going to reach or even exceed $2 million this year. And the average loss for a consumer is going up.” Pamela Hernandez with the BBB said. 

It’s that spike in losses that are making the BBB remind buyers to pay attention to potential pet scams. 

“Puppy scams are part of that bigger online shopping fraud. And we see a lot of that. And everybody’s chasing the hot deal.” Hernandez said. “Everybody’s chasing the hot toy. That’s another subset of online shopping. They’re looking for those deals that are often too good to be true. And scammers know that.” 

Hernandez says there are some ways to spot a scammer before you’ve lost your hard-earned money. 

“You want to make sure that you meet the puppy. A lot of times, these puppies don’t exist at all.” Hernandez said. ”If a breeder or a seller refuses to let you even do a video chat, that’s a big red flag. 

You can also do a reverse image search. See if that puppy is for sale on multiple websites and social media sites.” 

The BBB says another resource is local options like pet shelters. 

“You have the ability to go and actually meet the dog that you’re wanting to adopt. We have adoption events. You know, other shelters have sites that you can go to and physically see and meet the dog.” Amy Clark with Rescue One said. “I know some of these scammers are trying to take people for $400, $500, or $600, and you can go to a shelter. “Sometimes they have adoption specials where you can get a pet for a dollar, or you can get a pet for $50.” 

Groups like Rescue One have more than enough inventory as we get closer to the holidays.

“As well as several other animal rescue shelters. We are all at a maximum capacity or were even overloaded.” Clark said. “Right now, Rescue One is set up to care for 350 animals at any one time. Right now, we’re sitting at 422, and these are pets of all breeds, all sizes, all ages.” 

The BBB says you should be careful when it comes to online payments. The group says not to use Venmo or Zelle, as those methods don’t have the same protections as credit cards.