Can Fluffy’s Microchip Expose You to Data Fraud?We adore our pets – our dogs, cats, lizards, birds, horses – whatever we love and loves us back. And sure, our pets might expose us to stuff we don’t want, like the occasional flea or tick, some slobbering or a playful nip here and there. But it probably never occurred to you (or us either, frankly) that your newly adopted pet could also expose you to fraud.


Really. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 85 million American families have pets, or 67 percent of households. And, the III values the pet industry at around $75 billion annually. This is an industry vulnerable to fraud, especially since pet owners tend to spend a lot on their furry friends. What we’re focusing on here, however, is the practice of microchipping.

What is microchipping?

Pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to reunite with their owners, so most organizations recommend them. Pet owners, vets and animal shelters typically use microchips in case of the unfortunate event a pet is separated from its owner. The chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, carries a unique identification number that can be read by a scanner.

A microchip doesn’t require a battery, power or any moving parts, and is injected under the loose skin of your pet’s shoulder blades. It’s no more invasive than a vaccination and causes no ill effects.

Microchipping and data privacy

Microchip technology is a proven and safe way to reunite pets and their humans. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a few things into consideration when your pet gets a microchip. Here’s why. Typically, you must provide your cell phone number for your pet’s microchip, which makes sense – that’s how you get your little guy or gal back. However, for many of us our cell is our primary number, and that’s important information.

A recent scam going around that you should be aware of goes something like this:

You might get an email or a text with your pet’s name and claiming some sort of issue that needs your attention. This could be something like your dog’s license has expired, your cat needs a vaccination, or there’s an urgent food or medication recall. The message could be anything, and it could be legitimate or it could be from someone who gained access to the database with your cell phone number.

If you reply, or have ever replied, to one of these fraudulent messages, you may unwittingly provide access to your personal information, including bank accounts or credit cards. If you do, it’s always a good idea to check your accounts for any unauthorized charges in the event you were scammed.

A great rule of thumb with unsolicited emails and texts is to never respond or click on a link unless you’re 100% sure of the identity of the sender.

If you’re looking for smart and reliable legal representation, talk to Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law. Call 410-271-1892 or complete my contact form to schedule a meeting in my Annapolis or Ellicott City office.

And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.