CHICAGO – February 07, 2017 – Whether its dinner and a movie, flowers and jewelry, or sweets for your sweetheart- consumers will spend big this Valentine’s Day. In 2016 shoppers spent nearly $20 billion on gifts for their loved ones. The National Retail Federation expects this year to exceed that figure. Showing some love is great, but do so carefully, the Better Business Bureau says not only does Cupid target you so do scammers.
„There are a host of things that consumers need to look out for,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. „That includes everything from identity theft to romance scams.”
It’s expected, this year like last, the vast majority of dollars spent will be with florists. Bernas suggests, „When buying flowers don’t wait until the last minute.
Because of the convenience many consumers will choose to make their floral purchases online however, be very careful when choosing an online florist. With the amount of money that consumers are expected to spend you can be certain that scammers and unscrupulous businesses will also be looking to benefit. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission even has a name for unscrupulous online florists – „petal pushers”.
And then there are other scams:
Romance scams/online dating sites
It begins with the search for that special someone online. The scammer starts by expressing feeling of affection, builds their victims trust, then they quickly move to the rip-off. Never send money to a person you have not met.
Fraudsters pretend to be someone they are not with the intent of taking money or personal information from their target.
Social Media Scams
Beware of any „free” love giveaways such as flowers, perfumes or vacations. The „free” giveaways take consumers to a third party site where personal information can be compromised.
If consumers receive an instant message inviting them to become involved in a romantic online chat, think again. The „Flirt-bot” is a great example of an automated chat program that works with an instant messaging site, trying to get victims to share information about themselves, then directs them to a site where they are asked for a credit card to prove the person is over 18.
An email from „a friend” links to an online greeting card but when the individual attempts to download the card, malware is installed on their PC allowing the hacker to steal your personal information. If you receive a Valentine’s Day e-card, check with the sender before you click on the link.
Consumers receive an email warning that the gift or flower orders are unable to be delivered because of a problem with a credit card. The email has a link that directs consumers to a spoof site where they are asked to re-enter their credit card information.
For more great tips on having a great Valentine’s Day and avoid scammers visit our BBB Live Better Blog.
If you encounter any kind of scam the BBB urges you to report it to Scamtracker.
To find trustworthy businesses AT NO COST and for more important consumer information visit www.ask.bbb.org , also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and add us on Instagram.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. Consumers and businesses can search business reviews and ratings on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.