Connecticut BBB Offers Tips to Protect Yourself From Love-Related Scams
Wallingford, CT – February 12, 2013 – With Valentine’s Day a few days away, many consumers are still searching for that perfect last minute gift or way to show affection for their significant other. Some are even still hoping to find a special person to share the holiday with. Unfortunately, scam artists take advantage of the heightened emotions and communication that takes place surrounding this holiday of love.
Your Better Business Bureau is issuing advice regarding some of the most commonly reported consumer issues pertaining to Valentine’s Day:
Relationship Scams - Relationship scams can happen to anyone. You meet a great person online, everything seems to be going great but you aren't able to meet yet for some reason (distance, military deployment, work travel, etc.). Suddenly your online love interest has an emergency and asks you to wire money. If you do, he or she may continue to find more reasons to ask for money or simply disappear.
Be on your guard - Only send money to people you have met in person. Be especially cautious with people you meet online, even if you correspond with them via email or phone. Be wary of anyone who asks you to leave the dating website immediately to continue your conversation through email or IM, as this allows fraudsters to carry out their scam without the dating site having a record of your encounter.
Be cautious if someone claims to be local but is currently out of the country - Fraudsters could be operating from overseas, making it more difficult for authorities to track them down.
Always verify every emergency situation before sending money – Con artists can trick their victims in a variety of ways. No matter how much your relationship might seem like the real thing, you should be suspicious if someone starts asking for information like credit card, bank or government ID numbers or to send money.
Unfortunately, relationship scams are not the only problems that proliferate around Valentine’s Day.
Faulty Florists – Not all florists are created equal. Confirm that the florist you are placing an order with is actually the florist fulfilling the order and who your contact should be for follow-up communication.
Ensure that you have the florist’s accurate street address and phone number in case you need to adjust your order. It is not uncommon for a third party to be involved with fulfillment during periods of high demand. Request a written receipt for the order and get the business’s refund policy in writing if a delivery is late, incorrect, never arrives or is in poor condition.
Pesky Package Phishing – Many consumers order Valentine’s Day gifts and have them automatically shipped to loved ones as a surprise. Cyber criminals are well-aware consumers will order a Valentine’s Day gift and ship it to a loved one as a surprise.
With this in mind, scammers send phishing emails using trusted companies’ logos to trick consumers into divulging personal information that can be used for identity theft. The email may require you to click on a link or enter personal or financial information to re-confirm the order, or claim that there was an issue with billing and your account information must be re-entered.
If you suspect that someone sent you a package and you receive an email delivery confirmation, verify with the shipping company on the phone through their known telephone number, not one listed in the email before opening the message. Be especially careful with any unexpected emails that ask you to download items or click on website links.
Evil E-cards – E-cards are a popular way for consumers to send funny or thoughtful greetings to loved ones around Valentine’s Day. Due to their popularity, scammers have been known to setup fake emails directing the receiver to a bogus website that appears to be a lot like Hallmark or American Greetings.
Recipients who open the E-card may be prompted to download the latest version of software in order to view the card. If this program is installed however, it will download a virus that can provide a scammer with full access to computer files and personal information.
Pay close attention to links and files before clicking or downloading them. Verify that any web address you are being directed to is where you intend to visit by hovering your mouse over the link first to see where it is actually taking you. Enhance email filters and maintain updated anti-virus and malware software. Overall, be sure to only open E-cards from people that you know and trust.
You will find additional tips in the “For Consumers” section at www.ct.bbb.org.