Scams in the name of love
Watch your wallet on Valentine’s Day
Cupid is getting ready to shoot his arrows and it may be right at your wallet. Using love as a lure, many con artists and scammers seize Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to use the Internet to sweet-talk their victims out of personal data, including phone numbers and credit card information.
Be on the lookout for these Valentine’s Day scams:
- Social media scams — Valentine’s Day offers Internet con artists a great cover for their illegal activities. It may be wise to view all Valentine’s Day social media posts with a bit of skepticism, particularly those eye-catching messages with special offers and exclusive gifts.
- Search scams — Many of us use search engines such as Google or Bing for Valentine’s Day gift ideas. Internet thieves create bogus websites they hope you’ll click on. You know how this story ends: They steal your credit information and never deliver the goods.
- Spam and phishy e-cards — Here’s a common scenario: You receive an email alerting you to an e-card waiting to be viewed and directing you to a fake website that closely resembles a popular site like Hallmark or American Greetings. A prompt tells you to download the latest version of Flash Player in order to view your e-card. Click that link and a virus is quickly downloaded and attacks your computer. Instead of having your loved one steal your heart, a scammer has stolen your identity.
Before clicking — take a good look at the offer. Pay attention to grammar: Many scams originate offshore, and a careful reading will show that the writer is not familiar with English. Also, if an email or advertised offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Seek out legitimate sources for e-cards and gifts. If you use a search engine to look for Valentine’s Day items, make your search entry as specific as you can — include brand names and trusted manufacturers. Carefully scrutinize URLs and don’t go to unfamiliar websites. It’s safest to go directly to the site of a retailer or manufacturer. Make sure your anti-virus/anti-malware software is up-to-date and be sure to run system scans regularly.
If you decide to make an online purchase make sure it’s from a website with a secure connection — a secure or encrypted website address will begin with HTTPS rather than HTTP, and you will see a lock icon in the address bar. For more information on secure websites, see How to know if an online transaction is secure.
Valentine’s Day is a day for romance and expressions of love — it’s an emotional time for many people and an opportune time for scam artists. Be careful and stay vigilant so you don’t fall victim and have a happy Valentine’s Day!