Valentine’s Day is a day for romance and love, but it can also be a time for scammers to abound. Due largely in part to the rapid evolution of social media, it is estimated that over 40 million Americans have tried online dating. Therefore, with its growing popularity, the Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to proceed with caution before letting their hearts– and money get stolen.
We all know that relationship scams can happen to anyone - even football players. Online dating scams follow the same pattern. You meet a great person online and an intense relationship ensues. Everything seems to be going great but you aren't able to meet yet for some reason. Suddenly your online love interest has an emergency and asks you to wire money. If you do, he or she may continue to find more reasons to ask for money or at this point, they may disappear.
The BBB and Western Union have partnered to offer consumers tips on how to avoid scams. Here are some ways to stay safe from relationship scams:
Be on your guard. Only send money to people you have met in person. Be especially cautious with people you meet online, even if you correspond with them via email or phone. Be wary of anyone who asks you to leave a dating website immediately to continue conversations through email or IM, as this allows fraudsters to carry out their scam without the dating site having a record of your encounter.
Be cautious if someone claims to be local but is currently out of the country. Many scam artists operate from overseas, making it more difficult for authorities to track them down. Never give your banking information to people that you have not met in person or businesses that you don’t know.
Always verify every emergency situation before sending money. Fraudsters can trick their victims in a variety of ways. Sometimes they instantly express feelings of love and other times they lead their victims on for a while. No matter how much your relationship might seem like the real thing, you should be suspicious if someone starts asking for information like credit card, bank or government ID numbers or to send money.
About the BBB. The BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB Serving Greater Iowa, Quad Cities and Siouxland Region was founded in1940 and is one of 114 BBBs. Locally, the BBB has over 3,500 Accredited Businesses and provides reports and on companies throughout the state. Contact the BBB at 1-800-BBB-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.