Valentine’s Day is a unique day for celebrating love and expressing feelings and appreciation for the special people in our lives. Unfortunately, it is also an opportune time for scam artists to take advantage of consumers and steal their hearts—along with their money.
Whether you are still searching for love or are already in a relationship, your Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be aware of the following scams.
Florists – According to aboutflowers.com, Valentine’s Day is the number 1 holiday for florists. Unfortunately, not all florists are created equal. Typical BBB complaints around Valentine’s Day are that either the flowers were not delivered as promised (wrong flowers or arrangements) or they were not delivered at all.
- BBB Tip: Place your flower order early enough to allow time for shipping by Valentine’s Day and verify directly with the florist that the date/time is specified and guaranteed. Request a written receipt for the order and ask about the business’s refund policy if the delivery is late, never arrives or is in bad condition. Confirm that the florist has an actual street address and a working telephone number in case additional clarification may be needed.
Online Dating – Millions of Americans utilize online dating sites to search for that perfect match and it can be a very successful way to meet someone special. Scammers are also taking note of these sites though and targeting singles of any age and location. This is accomplished through the creation of fake profiles designed to steal identity information, financial details or simply money.
· BBB Tip: Do not fall for someone who is quick to develop a relationship and claim instant feelings of love. Scammers use emotional ties to increase the chances of their success. If your “match” asks for money to cover travel expenses or has a sudden emergency requiring an extensive amount of money, there is a high probability that it is a scam.
Personal Matchmaking – When choosing a personal matchmaking company that promises introductions to area singles with specified criteria, it is important to do research beforehand and to be cautious. There is no specific law that regulates dating services, so exercising good judgment and common sense when dealing with such companies is a must.
· BBB Tip: Gather information about the company’s history and reputation before meeting with a company representative to discuss the services provided. Inquire about the manner in which introductions are made, the company’s confidentiality policies and your cancellation rights if you are dissatisfied with the service. Do not commit to signing a contract until you read and understand it completely.
Phishing E-mails and E-Card Viruses – As February 14th approaches, everyone expects the usual notes of love or e-cards to arrive via email. Cyber-crooks are well aware of this and use this time of year to trick those who are “love-struck” into divulging personal and financial information through false alerts from florists or fake greeting card websites that actually download viruses to steal personal information.
· BBB Tip: Only open emails, attachments, and links from people you know. Enhance email filters to block any such threats. Watch out for unsolicited emails with subject lines such as, “Someone just sent you an e-card” or “Send your loved one a Valentine's Day card today.” If you ordered flowers and receive an email indicating a problem, directly contact the florist to ensure the e-mail is legitimate – chances are it is not.
The BBB encourages consumers to make informed, pre-purchase decisions, especially around Valentine’s Day, by doing their research and checking out businesses online through a company's Business Review at www.QuickSearchBBB.org or by calling 614-486-6336.