Table of Contents
- 1 Integrity You Can Rely On
- 2 Don’t Get Scammed
- 3 MISTAKE 1: Choosing an emotional support animal letter service based on price alone.
- 4 MISTAKE 2: You are not sure who you are dealing with at what location.
- 5 MISTAKE 3: Hello, is anyone there?
- 6 MISTAKE 4: You forgot to check for security safeguards.
- 7 MISTAKE 5: Accept any therapist
- 8 MISTAKE 6: Ignoring HIPAA requirements
- 9 MISTAKE 7: Taking reviews at face value
- 10 Stricter laws for emotional support animals
- 11 Experience You Can’t Buy
- 12 Assistance Animals
- 13 The ESAD Intl. Commitment, from Founder Chaz Stevens
- 14 Our credibility matters down the line.
- 15 Don't get scammed.
What makes our emotional support animal letter service more effective than the rest?
It’s a rare combination of industry expertise, excellent clinical skills, and global knowledge that only one firm can deliver. ESAD Intl. has it all. We call that combination “The ESAD Intl. Difference.” And we can put it to work for you.
Integrity You Can Rely On
As a pioneer in a booming field, we’ve set the industry standard. We don’t need to make hollow claims; the quality and integrity of our work have earned us the trust and respect of clients worldwide.
The prospect of securing an emotional support animal letter brings to the surface so many feelings: excitement, trepidation, fear, joy, and just about every other expression on the emotional spectrum. At the very least, it is an overwhelming experience for anyone that willingly has a go at it.
“Twenty-two dollar documents, deceitful business practices, unlicensed and unethical therapists, pets becoming service animals by clicking ‘submit’ — I see it every day,” said Chaz Stevens, CEO and founder of ESAD Intl., which offers emotional support animal letters worldwide. He’s concerned the fake operators will undermine the legitimacy of a vital service, a lifeline, really, for the truly disabled who legitimately need accommodations.
“It’s about time Uncle Sam sent in the cavalry,” he added.
Don’t Get Scammed
So, if I was shopping online, I’d make sure I could speak with someone at the ESA site. That’s the number one rule — talk to someone, and when (if) you get them on the phone, ask the following:
- The location (city) of their clinician(s). Make sure your referring therapist is based and licensed within your state.
- Ask for the ESA vendor’s business address. I would verify their location and closely examine their reviews.
- We employ cutting edge technology to protect your financial and mental health information. Your purchase is protected by $100,000 in identity theft insurance (McAfee) and we use Stripe (the best in the biz) as our credit card processor. We fully comply with federal HIPAA guidelines.
- Our intake exam is comprehensive … there’s no shortcut. If you’re not in need, trying to save a few bucks on rent deposits, or the such, you probably should shop elsewhere.
- We empower our therapists to say no. Highly trained and familiar with ESA laws and requirements, our clinicians are compensated regardless of the assessment outcome, so there’s no financial benefit to pump out letters.
- Developed by attorneys and fair housing experts familiar with federal law, our ESA letters are recognized as being the best in the business.
- And lastly, we’re soon to be launching ESA Smart, our online university offering training and certification for professionals who have a career interest in the ESA biz.
To help consumers, we’ve compiled a list of common first-time emotional support animal letter mistakes, and the best ways to prevent them from happening to you.
MISTAKE 1: Choosing an emotional support animal letter service based on price alone.
We know you are trying to stick to a budget, but why spend any money on something that will be challenged and denied? In documenting your need for an emotional support animal, cheap and good never go together. There are big differences between what you get at the lowest price and what you get for what’s legally required. Services that take short cuts to write you an emotional animal support letter will ultimately only cost you more in the long run.
If you think you can spend $20 on “quality mental health care,” as promised in those dirt-cheap letters you can easily find online, you also will need the best of luck on your side. Once you submit one of those bogus emotional support animal letters and your request for a reasonable accommodation for your disability is denied, you have made your chances of securing an apartment with the support you need that much harder.
MISTAKE 2: You are not sure who you are dealing with at what location.
Examine the company’s website. Do they list an address? In many cases, googling that address is likely to reveal an ESA vendor who is operating from a post office box in a UPS store.
- Google Map the location to see if it’s an actual office.
- Looking for an actual corporate identity.
- Finding out who owns the company. Can you find it on the company page?
MISTAKE 3: Hello, is anyone there?
When I shop online, I make sure I’m not just sending my money down a black hole. I do that by making sure there’s a phone number to call that someone actually answers. When and if you get someone on the phone, make sure you get answers to these questions:
- What city are the company’s clinicians located? You must make sure your referring therapist is based and licensed within your state.
- Ask for the ESA vendor’s business address. I would verify their location and closely examine their reviews.
- Whether a phone number is listed.
- If someone answers the phone or returns a message.
- If the call center based in the United States.
MISTAKE 4: You forgot to check for security safeguards.
You don’t want to get that call asking if that’s really you buying that $1,450 Saint Laurent leather crossbody bag. Having your credit card information compromised is never fun. Your protection is the reason we went through the time-consuming and costly process of being vetted and certified with Norton Secured. Our service meets the highest standards for protecting consumer information.
Unfortunately, a lot of other ESA vendors want to give you the impression they’ve done this. The Norton Secured Seal logo has been illegally cut and pasted on their site, making you believe they are certified to protect you.
So, how do you tell the difference? Simply click the logo. If it’s legitimate, it takes you to the Norton site and shows the vendor’s information.
- Whether third-party security logos (Norton, McAfee) is clickable.
- For California residents, if the vendor has a California Privacy Rights policy.
- The answer you get when you Google “who is” along with the domain name.
- If the domain is privacy protected.
MISTAKE 5: Accept any therapist
We offer access to licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC).
- If the therapist practices and resides in your state.
- Whether the therapist is located within a reasonable distance from you.
- If the vendor offers additional counseling services?
- What comes up when you Google your therapist’s name.
MISTAKE 6: Ignoring HIPAA requirements
We guard your information and privacy as if it were our own. The platform we have built is state-of-the-art technology. It was constructed with one thing in mind: protecting your privacy and safeguarding the information you provide.
According to HIPAA, the law that governs patient information, any business that handles electronic patient health information must have “contracts or other arrangements with business associates that will have access to the covered entity’s electronic protected health information (EPHI).”
In short, this means vendors MUST have a signed Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with every organization that comes into contact with EPHI data for which you are considered a “covered entity.”
- If the ESA vendor has a published HIPAA compliance statement.
- Asking about their policies in the case of a data breach.
- Whether there are physical security safeguards in place to protect your information.
- How many people will have access to your information.
- Asking what cybersecurity solutions have been implemented.
MISTAKE 7: Taking reviews at face value
A five-star review is often not everything it seems. Review sites like TrustPilot and SiteJabber post reviews without validating or verifying that the source of them are really customers. In other words, anyone can post fake reviews. And it happens all the time.
The incentives for allowing these fake kudos go beyond what you might think. Each review and each additional comment snowballs into more and more. Vendors can claim more visits, more traffic, and more sales, and that means more money for them.
Here are some definite clues that the reviews you see are not real:
- Lots of reviews posted in a short amount of time.
- Overuse of “I” and “me” and a lot of verbs.
- Certain phrases repeated over and over.
- Generic first names and last names and/or profiles without photos.
- If you can dig deeper into the names on the profiles.
- What the middle-of-the-road reviews say.
- If you have doubts, whether you can reach out.
Stricter laws for emotional support animals
Have you heard of an emotional support turkey? How about an emotional support monkey or pig? Across the US, roughly 30 states have enacted laws to crack down on fraud when it comes to helping people who really need it.
Across the US, many states will soon require certification of emotional support animals by licensed medical professionals and to make it a misdemeanor to misrepresent an uncertified pet as a disability-related therapy animal.
In North Carolina, under House Bill 796, emotional support animals would be defined in state law with a requirement that the owner’s need for the animal must be certified by a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker. Therapists would not qualify nor would an approved provider who “solely provides written documentation or verification to a person with a disability for a fee.”
In North Carolina, any person who does any of the following shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor:
- Misrepresents to a landlord that the person is a person with a disability or that the person has a disability-related need for the use of an emotional support animal.
- Makes a materially false statement to a health service provider for the purpose of obtaining documentation or verification that the person has a disability-related need for the use of an emotional support animal.
- Provides a document or verification to a landlord that misrepresents that an animal is an emotional support animal.
- Fits an animal that is not an emotional support animal with an item that would 16 cause a reasonable person to believe that the animal is an emotional support animal.
As a health service provider, does any of the following:
- Verifies a person’s disability status and need for an emotional support animal without professional knowledge of the person’s condition adequate to provide a reliable verification.
- Charges a fee for providing a written verification for a person’s disability status and need for an emotional support animal and provides no additional service to the person.
More than 30 other states have enacted similar legislation.
Under the measure, it would be a misdemeanor for an animal’s owner to represent it as an emotional support animal without the required certification or for a health care professional to certify an animal solely for a fee.
And that’s the rub … the days of “cheap” Internet letters are coming to an end.
Rental housing providers would still not be allowed to charge a deposit or fee for a certified emotional support animal, but they could require tenants to pay to repair any damage the animal does to the rental, just as if the animal was not certified.
Experience You Can’t Buy
Founder and principal Chaz Stevens has over three decades of working with organizations like IBM, Microsoft, and The Coca Cola Company. Working closely with each client, he would bring the full benefit of his valuable experience to the table for you.
With years of hands-on service and training in their disciplines, the ESAD Intl. staff are the best in the field. The members of our worldwide team of professionals are handpicked for the care, compassion, and capabilities.
There are three general categories of animals who may be considered as “assistance animals.”
1. Therapy animals: These animals are usually evaluated and registered by an agency and provide emotional support to individuals who need them. They are often used in hospitals, nursing homes and in school reading programs such as Reading Educational Assistance Dogs.
2. Service animals: These animals have been specially trained to perform tasks their owner can’t do on his or her own. Guide dogs for the blind are perhaps the most well known in this category. Service animals are not required by law to wear vests or have any form of identification.
3.Emotional support animals: These animals are not always explicitly trained, but serve as a comfort to individuals with a documented mental health condition. There is no restriction for the breed of emotional support animals because all domesticated animals can serve as ESAs.
An ESA is not like a Service Animal. SAs have access into the public space. An ESA only penetrates no-pets-allowed housing and on airline flights. A Service Animal performs a task, is often highly trained and penetrates the public space.
A majority of states, including Virginia, Colorado and California, have laws that criminalize fraudulent representation of a service animal. These violations are usually misdemeanors, but repeated violations can result in jail time.
The ESAD Intl. Commitment, from Founder Chaz Stevens
I established ESAD Intl. intending to become the preeminent emotional support animal services firm worldwide. The type of recognition and respect ESAD Intl. has received in these fields does not come by chance. It comes through hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence that clients recognize, refer to others, and come back to themselves. The ESAD Intl. Commitment is backed by me personally, and it means that when placing your faith in ESAD, our experts will work tirelessly for you. I encourage you to contact us today to learn more about what sets us apart.
Our credibility matters down the line.
Our credibility as a reputable provider of emotional support animal services is based upon our client’s trust.
Don't get scammed.
With so many choices and options available, how do you know which online ESA company is right for you? As experts in the field, we urge anyone interested in their first emotional support animal letter to do some homework.
Read our top seven mistakes to avoid when buying an ESA letter. Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do!