Valentine’s Day is a day that tends to bring out all kinds of emotions from people. Some people are happy and in love and making plans as to how they are going to spend the day with their special someone. Whereas, others are sad, lonely, and depressed because they don’t have anyone special in their life to spend the day with. Regardless of your love status, everyone needs to be cautious this year and watch out for scams. There are Valentine’s Day scams out there for people who are single just as well as there are for ones who are romantically involved. Let's take a look at them.
Watch the video below to see a few Valentine's Day scams exposed:
Okay, you want to buy flowers for your girl. She deserves it. So you go on the Internet and search for beautiful bouquets and a reliable delivery service in your city.
A bunch of flower shops are popping up in your search engine. You click, check the websites, every single of one them displaying amazing flowers at great prices! ("Special for Valentine's Day!").
The website looks good, the company claims to be a family run business for many years, and you bite the bait. Order online, pay, fill in the address where it needs to be shipped, and you're happy your girl will have the best surprise ever. Little did you know that she's not going to get them, and your credit card will be charged because you missed a lot of things in the process, such as:
- The flower shop showed up at the top of the search engine or on the side, under 'Sponsored Links'. That trick meant they paid to be seen by you and did not show up organically.
- They did not have a physical location for their store. Not having a brick and mortar establishment merely sells a 'long time family run business' for a flower shop.
- The name of your city showed up on their website because Internet cookies geotag it. Whether you live in Seattle or Melbourne, you'll get the same ad text, customized to your geographical area.
Needless to say, make sure you pay close attention to all these three things.
Another variation of this scam is represented by real companies that take online payments advertising small prices, but fill the final invoice shipping charges that the consumer is not aware of. These extra payments bring the total cost to a sum higher than any other regular deal.
A third variation of this scam is Valentine's Day Bait and Switch scam. Watch the video below to see complaints about how this scam works:
Always research the seller. You are not buying flowers every day, so don’t just jump into paying for the lowest price without doing your homework. Is it a legitimate business? If yes, look for reviews and testimonials. Don’t believe their own testimonials. Visit an online forum or two, check their Better Business Bureau rating, and research their location. The Internet will give you all you need if you do it right. See if they have a physical location in your city and go there to visit. But the flowers there.
Don’t fall for an eventual phone conversation either – the scammers are good at that, too. We wish we could recommend you one or two stores, but it all depends on where you live. Flowers don't last long.
There are lots of advertisements for electronic greeting cards. These tend to pop up year-round, but they tend to be more popular near major holidays. An e-card is an easy and free way to let your loved one know how special they are. But it is also an easy way for scammers to infect your computer with malware. Some companies are well-known that host e-card services, such as Hallmark and American Greetings.
However, scammers are hoping you won’t pay attention to where you received an email from. They may send you an email that has a subject with something along the lines of “Someone you know sent you an e-card.” Given the time of year, seeing this message may bring some excitement to you, so your mind is immediately focused on who it came from rather than where it came from. As soon as you click the link, you immediately have granted the scammer access to all of your files which may include or not be limited to online banking accounts and passwords.
These e-cards, which contain malware which will infect your computer upon opening, are a favorite trick of scammers. These malicious communications are usually tagged mostly with the line “Your lover sent you an e-card!”.
Don’t click on embedded links from e-cards. Even if you recognize the source, it is best to go directly to the company’s website to open it. If it is truly a legitimate e-card, then there will be a confirmation code included that will allow you to open it directly from the site. Never click the link directly unless you are confident that someone you know sent you an e-card. It is too risky to chance to put your personal and financial information at stake.
Everyone has that “most-desired” item their partner wants for Valentine’s Day, and we always know what the most popular are each year.
However, scammers are well aware of these popular gift items as by looking for the most sought after expressions used on the Internet, around Valentine's Day. Including wedding and engagement rings!
Then they will do what they can to help you compromise the security of your PC.
These cyber-crooks will build fake websites containing the most desired items for sale at incredibly steep discounts. Of course, once you have “made your purchase” you have downloaded malicious spyware onto your computer, compromising your PC and possibly your identity as well.
Be sure your computer is always loaded with the latest in virus and malware protection, from reputable companies. Be leery of sites that have unsecured URLs. Also, plan to make your purchases on one of the more well-known online shopping sites to ensure your identity and the health of your computer.
You are much better off shopping from a reputable retailer’s site that you are familiar with. Access their actual website by typing it in the address bar instead of using a search engine. Often, these fake sites look real, or they mimic another website that is official.
As Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and people are trying to find the perfect gift for that special someone, some prefer giving their sweetheart a gift card so that they can choose the perfect gift for themselves.
Scammers are well aware of this growing trend and are utilizing social media to deliver their scam to unsuspecting shoppers.
The scammers will offer gift cards to well-known retailers at unbelievably steep discounts through advertisements and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Once the victim has entered their information into the bogus database, the criminals have all the ammunition they need to steal their identity.
The danger with these posts on social media is that people share with their friends and families the so-called "great deal", without knowing that in a few minutes their credit card will be maxed out.
The gift cards may also come via unsolicited text messages (see above), where you are required to fill out 'annual surveys' for which scammers are paid afilliate commissions.
The best prevention is an ounce of cure. Don’t purchase cards from pop-up ads or messages on Facebook or Twitter. Always go to the website of the retailer from whom you are buying the card. By doing this, you know you are making a legitimate purchase and protecting your identity as well.
Be cautious of emails that you may receive containing great deals on Valentine-themed gifts such as jewelry, chocolate, flowers, or lingerie. If you have previously shopped with a company then they may have your email on file from last year, but still be skeptical. Watch out for minor typos. For example, instead of www.kayjewelers.com it may say www.kayjewelerskj.com.
You can easily hover your cursor over the link without clicking it to see the entire website generate that it would direct you to. If it is not a legitimate internet site, clicking the link can release malware on your computer, or it could bring you to a copycat website that will only try to steal your credit card information.
Since it is that time of year, people will tend to share tons of posts related to Valentine’s Day. You will see lots of love letters, poems or quizzes shared to your friends' pages. Beware of these because they could be from potential scammers that could attempt to coax you into purchasing from their website or trying to convince you to download malware.
Also be cautious of Valentine’s Day pop-up advertisement that direct you to an application that leads you to survey websites. These sites typically generate commissions for scammers or can put you at risk for identity theft. Scammers have a variety of tricks they use to try and compromise your identity.
You should never open generic messages on Facebook containing any information about Valentine’s Day. Even if you know the sender, that doesn’t mean that their page did not get hacked. That does happen quite frequently. If you suspect that you may have clicked something that you shouldn’t have, then you may want to monitor your credit.
You can utilize a free service that Credit Report Card offers. You are given two scores every month. Any significant change could be a sign that you have been a victim of identity theft. You can also access one free report each year from all of the major credit reporting agencies.
This scam exists since the Internet was invented. If you are single, it is a good possibility that you may be down in the dumps that you don’t have anyone to spend Valentine’s Day with and you are feeling lonely. Online dating has become a popular trend, so you may find yourself browsing through online dating profiles looking for your perfect match.
Finally, you have found someone who seems to be your perfect match. This person says all the right things. You appear to have common interests. You start to talk over the course of time building trust. Now, even though you haven’t met this person yet, it may feel like they are your soul mate and you have known them your whole life. All of a sudden, a crisis occurs, and they need money.
Maybe they are telling you that they will visit you, or they need it for other reasons, but you have grown to love and care for this person, and you trust them, so you want to help them. Don’t help them. Don’t send them money. A scammer has just targeted you.
You need to realize this person has hacked into your inner soul and learned about you and has tried to mimic the perfect match for you to make you “fall” for them. This person probably doesn’t even exist. They have mastered all the right words that you want to hear and often they steal models pictures and claim that it is their own to trick you into believing they are someone they are not.
This scam happens to thousands of men and women each year, mostly over the age of 40. This scam has even made the list of the Top Scams of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Victims tend to lose thousands of dollars because they let their emotions get in the way of their head. If you are foolish enough to send this person money, you will probably never hear from “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Right” ever again.
Also, once you wire them funds or mail them cash, it is nearly impossible to recover. This person sounds too good to be true because they probably are. Another sure sign to recognize is that they proclaim their love for you rather quickly. You have never met this person, so think about it. How can you love someone that you have never met? There are also instances where they claim to be U.S citizens working overseas, but they live abroad but you are being scammed.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean avoid pursuing love online because there are lots of online dating services that are legit. There are lots of people who have experienced great success from online dating.
Be careful not to let your emotions overpower your common sense. You can also scope out the Federal Trade Commission’s website to find more tips on spotting and reporting online scams, or you can investigate a photo on RomanceScams.org.
If their photo is posted there, then you automatically know it is a scammer that stole the picture. If you find yourself involved in an online romance, please do not send anything sexual without meeting the person and being sure of them.
The latest scheme has found that scammers are using webcams to convince you to perform sexual acts. They will record these videos and later tell you that if you don’t send money to them, then they will advertise the video publicly. Dating websites are a huge target to take advantage of lonely people.
We left the best for the last. Or this is, however, the newest one. How does it work? Randomly, flowers and a wine basket will arrive, and the mail courier will claim that a service charge needs to be paid to accept the package since alcohol has been delivered.
The delivery man will only accept a credit card. You are probably so fixated on trying to figure out who sent this package that you don’t realize that this guy is a phony. Not to mention, he is not your regular mail carrier.
Once you have provided your credit card information, the scammer can rack up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges since you just handed him the information.
Do not give the mailman any credit card information. If this were a true situation, you would not have to pay a fee. The person who sent the package to you would have already paid all the necessary fees.
If you want to stay updated on the popular scams, you can sign up to receive free email alerts from the Fraud Watch Network. You will also receive special tips on how to identify scams. Unfortunately, scammers tend to take advantage of lonely people on holidays, because they are more vulnerable. Be careful not to fall into any of these traps.
Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
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Week February 13-19, 2017
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