Although early February is awash in hearts, flowers, chocolates and romance, Valentine’s Day isn’t only for lovers. Unfortunately, it can also attract plenty of scammers.
Identity thieves have learned that tying their efforts together with holidays, major events or news stories can have a big effect, and Valentine’s Day scams are no exception. Here are three ploys that even Cupid would hate:
- Delivery confirmation cons. Surprise, you’re receiving flowers or gifts! All the courier service needs is for you to click on a link to confirm delivery — which then infects your computer with information-stealing malware. This fairly common Valentine’s Day scam has been around for years. Emails seem to be from legitimate companies like FedEx, UPS, or DHL, so recipients assume the messages are real. But keep in mind that courier services wouldn’t have recipient email addresses and if they do require confirmation for delivery, it would require an in-person signature rather than through an online link.
- Romance swindles. According to analytics firm iAcquire, online dating peaks just after February 14, most likely because singles see more online photos and status updates from their paired-up friends. Because of this increase, dating scams can also spike. Sweet-talking swindlers put up fake profiles on dating sites and then lure online matches into extensive conversations. These can lead to requests for money or data mining that can result in identity theft attempts. Know the warning signs, and listen to your gut to avoid these Valentine’s Day scam
- Telephone scams. You get a call from a “local” florist who’s having a big sale on Valentine’s Day flowers and, for a modest fee, you can have flowers shipped to loved ones anywhere. The catch? You’re actually talking to a scammer who’s using telemarketing techniques. These fraud attempts result in giving a stranger your name, address and credit card number, which can all be used for future identity theft. Protect yourself by making sure you don’t get romanced into a too-good-to-be-true deal. And if you do want to order flowers or other Valentine’s Day gifts, call a local, reputable florist. Better yet, stop by the shop and do the transaction in person.
In general, staying aware of potential Valentine’s Day scams can go a long way toward protecting yourself. As you would any other time of the year, be sure you’re not oversharing on social media and avoid opening emails that may contain malware. Also, refrain from surfing on websites that seem shady and do your research on people who ask you to send money for any reason.
Don’t give identity thieves a reason to love Valentine’s Day even more than they already do!