As the use of emotional support animals (ESAs) is on the rise, so are the amount of companies offering to issue ESA letters and registrations. It’s now more important than ever to remain vigilant when choosing which company to register your ESA with, as there have been a number of shady companies sending out a fake ESA letter to unsuspecting customers. These cannot be upheld in a court of law and can create an incredibly stressful experience for those who believe that they are covered under the new ESA laws.

This article will aim to tackle 8 easy ways to spot a fake company and a fake ESA letter so when and if you ever decide to register, you can be safe in  the knowledge that your ESA letter is legitimate, your pet is registered and that you as the owner are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Will The Company Provide You with a Blank Copy of One of Their ESA Letters (Like the One Below) Before Purchasing?

Divan Med - ESA Letter example

Always make sure the company you apply for an ESA letter with provides you with a blank letter.

Before purchasing your ESA letter, first ask for a blank copy (like the one posted above) from the company you’ve chosen to register with. With this, you’ll be able to check that it contains everything required in order to be considered valid. If the company or site doesn’t have one or refuses to show you a copy, it’s a big reg flag that you should pick another provider.

Is the Mental Health Professional of Choice Licensed in the Same State the Patient Resides?

This is a hugely important point, and one that’s easy to overlook when your applying for your ESA letter online. Make sure you get a copy of your therapist’s license so  you can check that they’re registered in the same state that you, or the patient wishing to apply for an ESA letter, resides.

Although the ADA, FHA, ACAA are all federal civil rights laws, each individual state in the US has its own medical licensing board – meaning that medical professionals must procure a separate license for every state in which they practice medicine in order for their prescriptions and recommendations to be considered valid.

Is the Mental Health Professional of Choice’s License Still Valid?

Still got a hold of that license? Good. You’ll also want to check that the license they have is still 100% valid and up-to-date. License renewal is different in every state, so you’ll have to look up what the laws are in your specific state in order to check all is above board. As an example: medical professionals in California must renew their license every two years.

Is the ESA Letter Written on an Official Medical Professional’s Letterhead?

Divan Med - ESA Letter example

If your emotional support animal letter is not written on a form with official letterhead and credentials, it’s most likely not legitimate.

Another red flag to watch out for is if your recommendation letter isn’t written on an official medical professional’s letterhead. Every company or practice should have their own branded letterhead, with the medical health professional’s name, what kind of license they have, their registration number and the date of issuance of their license and its expiration date clearly stated.

Does the ESA Letter Contain Details About the Emotional Support Animal in Question?

For an ESA letter to be considered legitimate, it must clearly state what type of ESA the animal looking to be registers is, its name and what its certificate ID number will be. If it doesn’t contain any or all of the these things, then you’ll want to consider going with a different company.

Does the ESA Letter Contain the Date of Issuance and an Expiration Date That’s No Longer Than One Year From the Letter’s Original Issuance?

Again, this is an incredibly important point, as no ESA letter will be considered legitimate and would be invalid in a court of law if it doesn’t contain these things. Make sure you check these two things are clearly stated on the blank copy you requested before ordering your own.

Is the Company’s Payment Page Secure?

An easy way to spot a dodgy website is by checking their payment page – if the http address doesn’t contain a padlock, the word “secure” and the https all in green, then this signifies that the page is not secure and your personal bank details will not be safe from hackers. Again, this is a quick and easy way to check a website’s legitimacy, but one that is commonly overlooked – be vigilant!

Moosh - Sleeping ESA dog with glasses

Don’t “fall asleep” when paying online for your ESA letter – you might be using a site that’s not secure!

So there you have it – eight easy ways to check that the company you’ve chosen to register with is safe, secure and they’ve issued you a legitimate ESA letter that can be upheld in a court of law. If you have any comments or questions about any of these points, please pop them down in the comments section below.