Valentine’s Day Scams

Scam #1: Valentine’s Day E-Card Scam

How the scam works:

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The one day of the year when we take the time to buy flowers for that special someone, candy, jewelry, or even just a card, all designed to say “I love you.”

In this, the electronic age, many people are sending e-cards. But beware of e-cards this Valentine’s Day from an unknown sender, as you could be getting a less than pleasant Valentine. As many people in a relationship expect a card from the loved one, many open their emails without taking a second look. Unfortunately, criminals know that, too.

These e-cards, which contain malware that 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!”

How to avoid:

In a word, prevention. Do not, under any circumstances, open one of these cards, regardless of how intrigued you are to discover the sender’s identity. Be especially cautious of opening these types of communications on your workplace computer; if you do, you could find yourself job hunting by St. Patrick’s Day! Be also careful the other way around, if you decide to send an e-card to your partner. Choose only legitimate services.


Scam #2: Fake Flower Shops

 

How the scam works:
Okay, you wanna buy flowers for your girl. She deserves it. So you go on the Internet and search for beautiful bouquets and reliable delivery service in your city. A bunch of flower shops is 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 gonna 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’. Which 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’.

– The name of your city showed up on their website because it’s geotagged by Internet cookies. 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.

How to avoid:

Always research the seller. You are not buying flowers every day, so don’t just jump into paying for the cheapest 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 really recommend you one or two stores, but it all depends on where you live. Flowers don’t last long…

 

Scam #3: Shopping Trends Scam

 

How the scam works:

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 desirable gift items 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.

How to avoid:

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 URL’s. 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.


Scam #4: Bogus Gift Card Scam

How the scam works:

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 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 minuted their credit card will be maxed out.

How to avoid:

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 purchasing the card. By doing this, you know you are making a legitimate purchase and protecting your identity as well.


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