Millions of individuals live with the daily struggles of mental health issues, and for many of them, an emotional service animal (ESA) makes a world of difference. To make your pet an assistance animal, you’ll need an ESA letter, but unfortunately, some shady companies sell bogus ESA letters and other products. If you want to ensure that your ESA is properly recognized, you’ll need to learn how to spot a fake ESA letter.
Fake ESA Letter: How to Tell if You've Been Scammed
Ensuring the legitimacy of your ESA letter is critical. Some online websites sell illegitimate ESA documentation that will not hold up to scrutiny and can cause your reasonable accommodation request to be denied. Only letters written by a licensed mental health professional who has assessed your mental health condition are valid.
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Fake ESA Letter
A fake ESA (Emotional Support Animal) letter is a fraudulent document claiming to certify an animal as an ESA without proper evaluation by a licensed mental health professional. These counterfeit letters lack legal validity, can lead to financial loss, and undermine the credibility of genuine ESA owners. To obtain a legitimate ESA letter, one must undergo a proper assessment by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) who can then issue the letter if the animal is deemed necessary for the individual's mental health treatment.
How to Spot a Fake ESA Letter
If you’re considering upgrading your pet to emotional service animal status, the most important thing you need is a legitimate ESA letter, composed and signed by a currently practicing medical professional. However, some companies sell ESA letters without following the proper guidelines and are not usable when you’re seeking housing for yourself and your assistance animal. But it can be easy to spot a fake ESA letter if you know what to look out for.
Signs that an ESA Letter is Fake
The first thing to look for in an ESA letter is the paper (or digital document) it’s written on. Every ESA letter should come on the official letterhead of a licensed mental health professional (LMHP), complete with their license number, practice name, and address. The next thing to check is the signature, which should be present and authentic. The body of the letter should consist of an official diagnosis and verification of your need for an ESA in your home. If any of these are missing or appear fraudulent, you’ve encountered a bogus ESA letter.
How to Identify an Online ESA Letter Scam
Spotting an online ESA letter scam is easy when you know what to look out for. Some companies promise a quick and easy process of getting your ESA letter that doesn’t involve a one-on-one consultation with an LMHP. Your ESA letter is not valid if you’re only diagnosed by an online quiz or survey, which some companies try to get away with, taking advantage of a lack of consumer knowledge. Also, if an online vendor tries to sell you “official” vests, harnesses, or ID cards — as well as certification or registration — they want you to spend money on unnecessary equipment and credentials.
Why Do Tenants Fake ESA Letters?
In some cases, a tenant might try to submit an ESA letter that they have forged themselves by creating a document with fake credentials. This can happen when someone doesn’t understand the importance of a legitimate ESA letter or wants to save themselves the monetary investment. Unfortunately, many states and localities have laws that punish those who create or submit fake ESA letters, so it’s not a good idea to falsify documents — especially when getting an ESA letter online is so easy with Pettable.
Are ESA Letters Obtained Online Valid?
Just because you get an ESA letter online doesn't mean it’s illegitimate. There are several legit ESA letter providers online, including Pettable. If you want to get your ESA letter from the comfort of your own home, just start by taking our online ESA assessment and we’ll link you with a licensed mental health professional practicing in your state. From there, you will have a virtual consultation, where your LMHP will evaluate you and diagnose your mental health condition. Once that’s done, you’ll receive your ESA letter in your email within 24-48 hours. Clearly, getting an ESA letter is actually easier than doing it the old-fashioned way!
What Does a Legitimate Emotional Support Animal Letter Look Like?
For your ESA letter to be considered legit, it needs several components: official letterhead, LMHP license number and address in the state they practice in, a diagnosis of your mental health disorder, and your medical health professional’s signature. It should appear just like any other official document, so if anything looks off or seems suspicious, take a closer look — you might have encountered a scam.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter?
Your ESA letter can be written by numerous different medical and mental health professionals, including your personal licensed therapist and family medical practitioner. Other mental health professionals, such as licensed counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs). Whichever you choose, they should be licensed in your current state of residence — many states require this, so it’s always best to treat it as a requirement wherever you live. They should also specialize in or have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating mental health issues.
When Can an ESA Letter be Denied?
If you are using your ESA letter for housing purposes, housing providers and landlords are prohibited from discrimination against disabled individuals by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). However, there are some instances where they may deny your letter with good cause. First, they can deny you if your ESA letter is fake or fraudulent, whether you fabricated it yourself or were a victim of an online ESA scam. They could also deny you if your animal is oversized, poses a threat to other tenants or residents, or could cause significant property damage.
How to Find Legitimate ESA Letter Providers
Finding a legitimate ESA letter provider shouldn’t be too hard as long as you know what to look for. Make sure you check reviews from previous customers; if any negative ones stand out, read them closely. Check out each company’s website to look for unnecessary products or services, as well as any promises of getting an ESA letter without meeting an LMHP. Also, look for customer testimonials and official credentials on the website; if everything looks legit, you might have found a reliable provider. To save yourself some time, trust Pettable to guide you through the process and get your official ESA letter online!