Top 5 Valentine’s Day Scams This Year
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.”
Below, I expose the most prevalent 5 Valentine’s Day scams this year.
1. Valentine’s Day eCard
In this 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 their loved one, many open their emails without looking. 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 mainly with “Your lover sent you an e-card!”
How to avoid:
You need to use prevention. Under any circumstances, do not 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 careful the other way around if you decide to send an e-card to your partner. Choose only legitimate services.
2. Fake Flower Shops
Okay, you want to buy flowers for your girl. She deserves it. So you search the Internet for beautiful bouquets and reliable delivery services in your city. A bunch of flower shops is popping up in your search engine. You click and check the websites, every single one of them displaying unique 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. 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 appeared 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.
- Your city’s name showed up on their website because Internet cookies geotagged it. Whether you live in Seattle or Melbourne, you’ll get the exact ad text customized to your geographical area.
Make sure you pay close attention to all these three things.
How To Detect Bogus Flower Shops Websites
If you feel a website promoting Valentine’s Day items for sale might be suspicious, verify it using our unique Scam Detector website validator below:
Another variation of this scam is represented by companies that take online payments, advertising small prices but filling out the final invoice for shipping charges that the consumer is unaware of. These extra payments bring the total cost higher than any other regular deal.
How to avoid:
Always research the seller. You are not buying flowers daily, so do your homework before paying for the lowest price. 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 place 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 one or two stores, but it depends on your location. Flowers don’t last long.
3. Instant Relationship Trap
The Valentine’s Day week is sensitive for a lot of people, especially the ones who are looking for a relationship. Therefore, many turn into online dating websites in hope of finding ‘the special one’. Here is where the sharks appear.
Watch the video below to see the romance scam red flags exposed by the folks at ABC News:
4. Valentine’s Day Shopping Trends
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 know 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 your PC’s security.
These cyber-crooks will build fake websites containing the most desired sale items 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.
How to avoid:
Be sure your computer is always loaded with the latest virus and malware protection from reputable companies. Be cautious 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 computer health.
5. Fake Valentine’s Day Gift Card
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 to choose the ideal gift for themselves.
Scammers know this growing trend and utilize social media to deliver their scams 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 the so-called “great deal” with their friends and families without knowing that their credit card will be maxed out in a few minutes.
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 retailer’s website from whom you buy the card. Doing this lets you know you are making a legitimate purchase and protecting your identity.
How To Report Valentine’s Day Scams
Warn your family and friends know about these Valentine’s Day scams. Feel free to share the article if it was helpful. However, you can report scammers and any suspicious activity officially to the Federal Trade Commission (most important), the Office of the Inspector General, and the FBI Internet Complaint Center by using the pages below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be the first to find out the most common scams weekly, subscribe to our Scam Detector newsletter. You’ll receive periodic emails—real, no spam.
Educate yourself with some other special-day fraud-related articles below to learn how to stay safe online. Last but not least, feel free to use the Comments section below to expose other online scammers.
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