Because of the amount of money that consumers are expected to spend this Valentine’s Day on flowers, consumers can be certain that scammers and unscrupulous businesses will also be looking to benefit. To ensure that a Valentine’s Day bouquet is delivered as planned, follow these scam savvy tips:
- Let the BBB guide 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 ordering online, visit or chat with the brick-and-mortar shop prior to making a purchase. Discuss the arrangement you are looking for, inquire about guarantees and ask about delivery times. Don’t make a payment until the order is clearly outlined and 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 do you avoid a Cupid con? Looking out for the following red flags can help protect both your heart and 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 people face-to-face. An interested girl – or boyfriend would normally want to make time to get to know you better in person. So, if a 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/grammatical errors can be clues that you are 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 a new love 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 banking information with someone that you have not met in person or don’t know very well.