There’s not a romantic amongst us who will not realise that Valentine’s Day is on the imminent horizon. Whilst the day is one to be spent caring for the one you love, or perhaps even mourning over your single status, it is also a day to watch out for a whole plethora of online scams that will be trying to target the starry-eyed Internet surfer. Here we list some popular online Valentine’s scams to look out for.
There’s nothing quite like getting a Valentine’s card being left in your tray at work or dropped through the letterbox on Valentine’s day, except for perhaps a Valentine’s E-Card being sent to your email inbox. E-Cards are a fantastic, cheaper and environmentally friendly alternative to sending a real card and as a result have become a popular method of expressing sentiment. However this has also led to a plethora of online scams which either request a person visit a malicious website or download a malicious attachment in order to “view their e-card”. Filled with anticipation of who their secret admirer may be, victims hastily follow the instructions and end up getting their computer infected with malware. Oops.
Watch out for emails landing on your doorstep claiming to show Valentine’s e-cards and never download attachments or click on links from emails that you do not trust. Also be aware of websites that request you download “flash updates” or “plugins” in order to “view your e-card”.
Facebook Survey Scams
No set of scams would be complete without Facebook scammers getting in on the act. Survey scams are the most likely scam to be encountered on the social networking site, where messages are going to be posted from the accounts of your Facebook friends baiting you to visit external websites or install Facebook applications. The messages will likely purport to either show you your Valentine’s or allow you to send your loved one a poem/heart or other romantic digital goody. Only after you complete a survey and part with much of your personal information first, and fall for one of several tricks to get your account to post the same message to your Facebook friends as well.
Never complete surveys from links in Facebook. You can read more about survey scams here.
Valentine’s Deals and Discounts
Increasingly popular during the run-up to any holiday that the shops love to love is email spam promoting great discounts. In this case we will be seeing lots of spam promoting discounts on flowers, chocolates and other Valentine’s themed products. The discounts will seem too good to be true, because they are! These emails will link to dubious websites that will either steal your card details and use them in identity fraud or will charge your card excessive amounts. Probably both.
When buying stuff from the Internet, for Valentine’s Day or any other reason, stick to the same rules. Only do business with sites that you trust and have researched! Read our top tips to safe online shopping here!
Phishing attacks come in all shapes and sizes, and try and get the victim to enter their personal information, specifically their banking details, into a spoofed website. One popular tactic during the Valentine’s period is to send out spam emails claiming the flowers or chocolates that were ordered could not be delivered due to an error with the credit card information. Of course many of these emails will be ignored as the recipient did not order any such product, but once these emails reach someone who did – which is likely during Valentine’s – then there is a good chance the unfortunate victim will be rushing to re-enter their details to get their product delivered on time. Of course, there was never a problem with their card, and the victim just entered their card details into a spoofed website.
Always be suspicious of emails that link to websites asking for your card details, for whatever reason. If you think the email may be legitimate then go directly to the website and not through a link in an email. Always ensure you are on the website that you should be on, and not a page designed to look like another website.
Romantic 419 Scams
419 Scams, otherwise referred to as Nigerian scams come in many different guises and the romantic angle is one commonly used disguise. Be aware of any communication received from someone “looking for love” who thinks you may be the one they seek, be it through social networking, email or through fake profiles on online dating sites. Lonely victims are often more susceptible to this type of scam during this time of the year. Victims are lured by a fellow “lonely heart” who communicates only through the Internet. A relationship builds up between the scammer and victim, where upon the scammer requests money from the victim, for some fabricated reason. The victim may feel obliged to send the money considering their blossoming relationship. Thereafter the scammer disappears, or asks for more money.
Never send money to people you have only met online. You never know who they could be and immoral scammers are more than willing to fake a relationship with a victim in order to get them to hand over their money.
Take heed of these warnings and we hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day.