Behind only Christmas, Americans spend more money on Valentine’s Day than any other holiday. With an average of $126 per person spent each year, Valentine’s Day raked in $17.6 billion in 2012 – all between cards, flowers, chocolate, jewelry and dinner. But even though romance is in the air for couples on February 14th, scammers still have your money on their mind. What should you be on the lookout for this year when planning a special day with your loved one?
1. E-Cards: Even though checking your inbox and seeing that “someone has sent you an e-card!” may be mysterious and exciting, make sure you know the cupid who’s sent you the Valentine before you click on the link. Once opened, phishing e-cards can infect your computer with malware or obtain personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers. Scammers know it’s easier to trick consumers into clicking onto malicious links while romance is in the air, so make sure you know who the card is from before you view it.
2. Online Flower Shops: Because we aren’t usually shopping for flowers on a regular basis, online flower scams spring up like crazy this time of year, hoping to trick consumers who don’t do their research before handing over their credit card number. Just because the company is promoted with advertisements all over the internet does not mean they are legitimate – you still need to do your research! Look for reviews and testimonials from previous customers, research the company’s physical location and most of all, check out their Business Review with the BBB.
3. Delivery Emails: With the majority of flowers and gift packages ordered online, it’s no wonder phishing scams abound as the clock ticks down to Valentine’s Day. Be wary of email warnings that your gift cannot be delivered because of a problem with the credit card used. Clicking on the link included in the message will usually direct consumers to a spoof site where they re-enter their information, handing it directly over to scammers. If you ever have any question about the status of your order or delivery, contact the company’s customer service department immediately and do not follow through with the original email received.
4. Online Dating: The online dating market has grown 57% in the last two years alone, with almost half of those subscribers signing up to meet their soul mate in the months of January and February. If you’re looking for love online this Valentine’s season, be careful of fake profiles created by scammers which try to lure vulnerable people into revealing their personal information. Do your research before joining: how introductions are made, background checks and the screening process for matches are all viable and important questions to get answered before joining.