Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, and many will take this opportunity to shower their loved ones and partners with gifts to show just how much appreciation and admiration they have. Yet with the holiday estimating to cost America a big $18 billion this year, the scammers are going to be out on the prowl to take advantage.
The Better Business Bureau is providing a few tips on how to avoid those scams that will most likely cause a Valentine’s Day fail.
First, when it comes to ordering flowers keep a sharp eye out for scrupulous businesses. This year it’s estimated that American’s all over the country will shell out a good $2 billion on flowers. With that number as high as it is, scammers are certainly going to be on the move to get their fair share. The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips on how to avoid scammers:
- Let the Better Business Bureau be a guide for any and all purchases. On BBB.org, consumers will be able to use the search guide to find florists and gift shops as well as search for other customer reviews.
- Make sure to visit the shop or talk to someone in over the phone. Discuss the exact arrangement you’re looking for. Even if you’re ordering online make sure to go to the shop in person if you can and inquire about your purchase, the company policies, delivery times, and guarantees. It’s important that you don’t finalize your purchases until all information is properly outlined. Finally, be sure to obtain a receipt after purchase.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious calls and emails. Phishing scams spike around this time of year for those who expect to give flowers and gifts to their loved ones. Beware of fake e-cards and unsolicited emails that can contain viruses and request additional funds in order to deliver gifts.
Social media and online dating sites will be buzzing with activity come Tuesday. Match.com expects to see a jump in its new users by twenty percent. It’s also said that around 1.9 million Facebook users will change their relationship status. However, the internet is also a great place to find scammers who just loving preying on love struck victims.
It’s sometimes all too easy for a scammer to build a relationship with someone under false pretenses whether it be through video chat, over the phone, or texting. At some point in the is relationship the scammer will cry that they are experiencing some type of trouble with their finances, or say that they need money to come see the victim.
Once the funds are exchanged, the scammer drops off the face of the earth and the victim is out of who knows how much money. The BBB calls these type of scams Cupid cons. They are the hardest to avoid because scammers in this type of con know just how to make others feel vulnerable.
The following are a few tips on how to avoid Cupid cons and what to look out for:
- Look out for a new friend that is always a no show. Whether its business travelling, vising family out of state, or a last-minute re-schedule. This is an extremely common excuse for scammers, and how they will lie to avoid meeting people face-to-face. A significant other would normally find time to see and get to know someone better. If your new boo is ignoring you, this should alert you to suspicion.
- If you’re searching for a love interest on Facebook and find that their profile is extremely new, doesn’t fit their description or doesn’t exist you’re probably being scammed. When you’re talking to someone and find out things about them, the information they provided you with should most definitely match up with their social media profiles. Look for things like a small list of friends, little or no photos, major spelling or grammar errors. All those things can be signals that you’re talking to a scammer.
- When it comes to loaning out money, people often always skeptical even if it’s to a really good friend. It’s just an uncomfortable situation at times. Be on the lookout for new loves that immediately ask you for cash. Their needs will range from a number of emergencies. They will claim to have been robbed, or there was a medical emergency. Scammers will tell any story to tug at your heartstrings. And your wallet. BBB says to never give out money or share your bank info with someone you don’t know very well and have never met.
Always be on the lookout for business scams or people who use the methods above.
The truth is everyone wants to feel special and needed, especially on a day of celebrating love like Valentine’s Day. The best way to protect yourself from a scam is not to let your emotions cloud your judgment, be aware of all the signs, and try not to ignore that gut feeling. Anyone is open to a scam so don’t think it won’t happen at some point. There are people out there who can’t wait to prey on vulnerability.