Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, but don’t let it make you vulnerable to scams.
With love in the air, Julie Wheeler, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Western Virginia said people become more vulnerable and the number of romance scams become more popular.
Especially during the pandemic, more people are dating online or finding love on social media.
According to the BBB Catfishing is the 11th most popular cybercrime, but the second-costliest.
Here’s BBB’s advice if you decide to date online:
- Don’t fall in love with the advertising. Be skeptical of claims such as “an exclusive network of people,” “for sincere daters only,” or “beautiful singles just like you.”
- Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Sales associates may tell you that a low price is only good for that day and ask you to sign a contract immediately. You should read the agreement carefully and make sure you understand it.
- Know how to break up. Consumers should not assume that they will stop being billed once the contract runs out. Many online dating sites automatically renew memberships. Usually, you must call the company or send written instructions to avoid being billed again. Read cancellation policies before you sign up.
- Beware of demands by a match to send money. Some scams that match men with foreign women typically include a request to send money to pay for a trip to the United States, using a wire transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union. The woman never makes the trip, and the money can’t be recovered.
- Do your homework. Ask to speak to other members or customers of the service about their experiences.
If you’re a victim of a romance scam, report it. You can file a complaint through the BBB’s website and the bureau’s scam tracker. If you’ve sent money also alert your money transfer service.
For a look at the BBB’s study on romance scams and the different stages, click here.
Maybe you’re not looking for love and just shopping for your valentine. The BBB advised to keep your guard up for multiple types of flower delivery scams.
- Fake pop-up flower shops
- Flower deliver phishing emails
- Package delivery scams
Wheeler said make sure you shop at a legitimate site, do your homework or simply shop local for gifts.
“Just be careful, if you’re making a purchase online you want to make sure you check the website, check with us (BBB). If it seems too good to be true, they’re making promises that don’t seem realistic, again chances are they’re just trying to take your money, always use a credit card when you’re buying online,” said Wheeler.
Other ways to avoid flower delivery scams is to call the company directly using a number you find yourself not the one in the email or ad, don’t accept a package or open emails from people or companies you don’t know and check BBB reviews or ratings.