BBB Warns: Valentine’s Day Is For Scammers Too!

February 06, 2014

Valentine’s Day is almost here and love is in the air!  But so are the scammers who “love” to take advantage of this special day.

For those already in love and those looking for love, BBB provides the following information for what to be aware of this Valentine’s Day to keep both your heart and wallet safe.

Beware of:

Phishing E-mails. As February 14th approaches, we expect notes of love to arrive in our mailboxes. Cyber-crooks are well aware of this and use this time of year to trick those who are “love-struck” into divulging their personal and financial information. One common Valentine’s Day scam directs the recipient to a fake website that looks like a popular greeting card website, like Hallmark. The site prompts the recipient of the card to download the latest version of Flash Player in order to view the card. Once the user clicks the link, a virus is automatically downloaded and invades their computer, exposing the person and their email contact book to potential identity theft and financial loss. Other phishing scams prompt targets to provide credit card and other personal information in order to read the e-card.  Another email claims to be from a flower company and indicates the flowers you ordered for your sweetheart won’t be delivered unless you log in and re-enter your credit card information. A significant number of these messages will reach people that have actually ordered flowers, and no one wants their loved one to think they've forgotten them on Valentine's Day! If you click the link in that email and enter your credit card information you could have a real problem once you get your next statement.

Package Delivery Email Scams. Many companies allow you to order Valentine’s Day gifts or flowers online and have them shipped to loved ones. However, cyber-crooks are well aware of this and may try to trick consumers into giving personal and financial information by creating phony delivery emails.  If you receive an email about a package or delivery that you don’t expect or didn’t send, don’t open it. You should be able to successfully send and receive Valentine’s Day gifts without being forced to correspond with the company through an email. If you suspect someone sent you a package and you are receiving an email delivery confirmation, be sure to verify with the shipping company on the phone before opening the email. Be especially careful with any unexpected emails that ask you to download items or click to separate websites – these are the signs of a scam.

Fake Online Dating Profiles. Scam artists often create fake profiles designed to gain the trust of their victims, but ultimately intended to steal identity information, financial details, or money in general. After a few “perfect” chat sessions, the scammer may even attempt to set up a meeting, and ask the victim to wire money for a plane ticket. This might sound like a small price to pay for Mr. or Ms. Right, but is an easy way to lose the money sent.  Unfortunately, the anonymity of the internet makes it easy for con artists to use these sites to meet potential victims.

Think Twice Before your “Sweetheart:”

Wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or telephone.

Claims love within moments of meeting you online.

Claims to be from the U.S. but is traveling overseas.

Plans to visit, but is prevented by some sort of emergency or deal gone bad.

Wants you to wire money for any reason!  Alert, alert!

Be safe, smart and informed this Valentine's Day by keeping scammers at bay.