Scammers are always out there, looking for a new way to take advantage of you, especially this time of year. This is also a time of year when you might be thinking about adding a new furry family member to your home. Of course, make sure your family is ready for that responsibility, and make sure you don’t fall for the “holiday puppy scam.”

Scammers are hoping you shop for a puppy online. Experts say this scam can be difficult to avoid because cute pictures can tug at your heartstrings, and great deals can tug at your wallet. But here’s something to keep in mind.

“If you are going to shop online for a new pet, do a reverse look-up of that photo and see how many other times that sweet puppy’s face is appearing on other websites. That in itself, is going to be a red flag that this is not going to be a legitimate dog,” said Robyn Householder with the Better Business Bureau.

To avoid a puppy scam, shop around. And if you’re buying online, pay with a credit card so you can dispute a fraudulent charge.

And remember, there are thousands of homeless dogs at local shelters looking for loving forever homes. Even if you’re looking for a specific breed, check shelters first. You never know when you’ll find the perfect pet there.

Several local shelters are: