If you or anyone you know has ever been the victim of identity theft, you know that it is a comprehensive nightmare. We can empathize, because we at Pacific Pet Transport are also the victims of identity theft. Yes, it happens to businesses as well as individuals – thousands of us each year – and it’s increasing. And customers – pet owners just like you – are paying the price right along with us.
Fake Pet Transport Companies Are Real!
Most identity thieves steal personal or business identification so they can steal your money. They drain bank accounts and rack up huge credit card bills in your name, ruining your credit rating and personal/company reputation. But for a company like ours, it’s even worse. Fake pet transport companies are not really targeting us, they are targeting you, using your need to transport a pet – typically a new puppy you have purchased remotely – to take your money and run.
They take a deposit (or as much money as they can get from you), promising to pick up your new pet and ship it to you. But they never arrive to pick up the actual dog (or cat). They’ll string you along, though, sending pictures or video of “your” pet (who may now have a fake need for a different crate, medical attention, or some other reason for you to send more money). There is no animal involved, so the “need” is phony as are the pictures (they use the same ones for every scam).
Or, they may pose as a different company, telling you they hired us to deliver your new pet, then blame us when the animal is never picked up or delivered. They’ll tell you to go after us for scamming you!
Since there is no actual company, you’ll never see your money again. Nor will you receive the pet you’re expecting.
This Is Beyond Reprehensible
Worse, it’s easy for pet parents to get victimized, because the bad guys create an imposter website that looks so real it lures you in. That’s what has happened to us. They target companies like Pacific Pet Transport because we are legitimate, well-established, and have a good reputation. You feel confident calling on us to handle your new pet’s travel, and you think you are dealing with us.
It’s sad that we now live in a world where you can’t trust first impressions, but the only way to protect yourself and your pet from this nightmare is to make like a dog and dig deeper. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a cyber-security whiz to detect red flags. Any one of them should make you very nervous, say the experts. Find more than one, and you should run for the hills.
You do have to look carefully, though, because the bad guys are really, really good at faking you out. They have to be, in order to set the hook. Here’s what to look for, including examples taken directly from the pages of the website impersonating the real Pacific Pet Transport:
The domain name (URL). All an imposter has to do is change one letter, and suddenly you’re on their website, not ours. How can you tell? Look at the line at the top of your browser where the URL is. On our imposter’s site, every single page has a little icon in that line, over on the right next to the star – it’s a tiny shield shape with an X in a red box over it. If you mouse over that icon, it warns you, “this page is trying to load scripts from unauthenticated sources.” That’s a polite way of saying they are pirating content from other websites.
Contact us. Real companies want your business, so we make it really easy to contact us. By phone, email, even in person. So some of the most obvious red flags on a fake business website are the contact details.
- Call the phone number. If you get a recording that says, “The TextNow subscriber you’re trying to reach is not available, please leave a message,” (as our imposter’s does), you know you’ve reached some person’s cell phone. Real businesses answer the phone.
- Google the address. Our imposter’s address is nothing more than a random house in a Dallas neighborhood. It might be the bad guy’s actual home, but it’s not a pet transport business. But, wait. On some of their website pages, they list a different address, in Norfolk, VA (but with the same no-answer Dallas phone number). That address in Norfolk? Another residence.
Real pet transport companies have real phones and real offices. When you visit our actual website, you can see pictures – of us and of our facilities.
Partner logos, also called trust seals. Businesses display logos of partner companies and organizations to let you know we’re legit, but anyone can surreptitiously cut and paste an image from another website. Real icons will take you to that organization’s website, fake ones will be nothing more than that image. The image will probably look a bit fuzzy, too. Click on every logo or link you see.
The language. Legitimate pet transport companies are in this business because we love animals. We’re pet owners, too, and we are committed to safe, comfortable pet travel. That philosophy permeates our website and that of our top competitors. So when a website repeatedly references “cargo transport” and “air freight” instead of dogs, cats, and family, that’s a red flag. When it says “our experts will analyze your business and formulate a quicker, safer and cost effective way to deliver your cargo . . .” you should say to yourself, “give me a break!” and go elsewhere.
Another tip is not-quite-correct wording. We all make the occasional grammar or spelling mistake, but if the English diction seems “off” in multiple places, experts say you should be very wary.
Let’s Talk Money, because That’s the Bottom Line
It costs money to ship a pet, and you want to know how much. On our Pacific Pet Transport website (and those of other well-reputed pet transport firms) you can easily request a quote specific to your pet’s travel needs. On our imposter’s site, you get a blank page when you click on “Payment.” (Or anything else, really. Their only desire is for you co contact them via email so they can set the hook with false stories about what they will do for you and – most important for them – where you should start sending money.
That, in itself, is the biggest red flag of all. These guys operate just like the puppy scammers (maybe they’re the same people, who knows?). They are all about getting money up front from you, through shady means that ensure your money is not retrievable. NEVER, ever send money via Western Union or MoneyGram. Legitimate businesses never, ever, ask you to do that.
And, much as we like to be paid for our services, our primary concern and primary conversations with you will be about ensuring a safe, comfortable, efficient and entirely legitimate travel experience for your beloved pet.