It’s that time of year again to treat that special someone in your life. But it is also a favorite time of year for scammers to look for victims, too. With our tips, you’re sure to celebrate a scam-free day with Cupid.
Because of the amount of money that consumers are expected to spend this Valentine’s Day on flowers, you can be certain that scammers and unscrupulous businesses will also be looking to benefit.
To ensure your Valentine’s Day bouquet is delivered as planned, follow these scam savvy tips:
- Let BBB guide your purchases. Research trusted florists and gift shops, check out customer reviews, and look for scams at bbb.org.
- Pick up the phone or visit the shop. Even if you’re ordering online, visit or chat with the brick-and-mortar shop prior to making your purchase. Discuss the arrangement you’re looking for, inquire about guarantees and ask about delivery times. Don’t make a payment until your order is clearly outlined. Always ask for a receipt.
- Watch for unsolicited calls and emails. This time of year, phishing scams spike for those looking to treat loved ones with flowers and gifts. Fake e-cards can carry viruses, and unsolicited emails claiming to require additional funds for gift delivery are common.
Beware of Cupid Cons
The Internet’s ability to connect people through social media and online dating has been a godsend for many single folks. But with that convenience come opportunities for scammers to prey on the love-struck.
This is a common narrative with many Valentine’s Day scams. An interesting stranger builds a fake relationship with an unsuspecting target through phone or video calls, texts and emails. Eventually, the scammer claims to be experiencing a financial hardship — or begs for funds to come visit the love-struck victim. After money is exchanged, the scammer cuts off contact. These types of scams are tricky because scammers know how to make people feel vulnerable and how to get them to do what they want.
How can you avoid a Cupid con? Looking out for the following red flags can help protect both your heart and your wallet:
Your new friend is a constant no-show. Traveling for business, house-sitting for an out-of-state friend, visiting family far away and other last-minute schedule changes are all common excuses scammers use to avoid meeting you face-to-face. An interested girl- or boyfriend would normally want to make time to get to know you better in person. So, if your new love interest is avoiding you, it’s time to get a little suspicious.
Their social media profiles don’t match, are very new or are nonexistent. Contact information, pictures and background information the person shares with you should match what you see on their social media profiles. A shortage of online friends and contacts, stock photos and spelling and grammatical errors can be clues you’re being wooed by a scammer.
They ask you for money. Asking for a loan from even the closest of friends can be uncomfortable (not to mention unwise), so why would your new boo be boldly asking you for cash? From medical emergencies to claims of being robbed — a romantic scammer isn’t afraid to brazenly beg. Be particularly wary of anyone asking you to send funds via wire transfer or a gift card. And never give money or share your banking information with someone you’ve not met in person or don’t know very well.
Awareness and education are the best line of defense against fraud, and consumers can protect themselves by applying common sense and not letting emotion get in the way. Anyone can fall victim. Fraudsters even coach potential victims to ignore warnings such as this! To avoid losing money to scammers, you should:
- Send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
- Provide banking information to people or businesses you don’t know.
- Send money for an emergency situation without confirming that it’s a real emergency.
- Send funds from a check in your account until it officially clears (which can take a week or more).
- Stop and think – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Know the person you are sending money to. Only send money to people who you have met in person.
- Be suspicious of someone who asks you to send money for an emergency by wire, prepaid money card, or gift card.
Look for love in all the right places, with BBB.
If you’re hoping to find that special someone and don’t know where to start, check with BBB first. Check our BBB Accredited Directory for companies you can trust.
For more information, please contact bbb.org/atlanta.