The holiday is known for love, yet some use it as an opportunity for deceit. Valentine’s Day scams come in many forms. Are you aware of them?
Types of Valentine’s Day Scams
You may, or may not, be surprised to know that it’s more than just romantic hopefuls falling for hoaxes. Valentine’s Day scams bombard users through email, search, and social media campaigns. All serve as an opportunity to exploit your banking accounts, as well as your personal identifying information (PII). The content within these scams, such as images of cute hearts and candy, is very sharable. They spread like wildfire, making large profits for online thieves.
Below, we’ll describe how these V-Day romance scams operate. By understanding their functions, you’ll be able to protect yourself against malware, phishing attacks, and more.
Online greeting cards
E-cards are a great way to send sentiment and save paper. However, many of the free e-card services come with a hidden cost. Scammers use them to infect your computer with malware, giving them remote access to your files. Some have even learned to make fraudulent copies from legitimate e-card servicers.
American Greetings, the world’s second-largest greeting card producer, states that e-cards are not necessarily the issue. “Following links embedded in the [e-card notification] email is where consumers have to be cautious.” They recommend that consumers learn to identify authentic e-card services and visit the websites directly when accessing greeting messages.
Look-alike domains use imitation to deceive consumers. Scammers will register a website with a name similar to a well-known entity. For instance, instead of Google, the look-alike is Googel. The websites are typically more complicated, but this example serves to bring awareness.
The false versions will use the same fonts, colors, and messaging as the original, making it difficult for consumers to spot the difference. The last step is for scammers to send emails or create advertising to the fictitious site. They’ll “sell” merchandise to obtain credit card information, leaving their victims without a real purchase.
You can avoid domain look-alikes by checking your spelling. Furthermore, keep your eyes open for grammar or design issues. Large companies utilize a lot of resources to curate their web presence. Fortunately for us, the typical scammer will not put in the effort. Also, when in doubt, look for HTTPS in the URL. The “S” indicates a security certificate that encrypts the exchange of sensitive information. This WikiHow article describes the process in detail.
Facebook surveys about Valentine’s
Facebook is notorious for scam quizzes that mine your data. While there are several variations, the most malicious is the kind that requires an account to a third-party website. Users, blinded by their desire for entertainment, provide their address, email, and in some cases, credit card information. It may seem easy to catch, but often users forget to pay attention. They see an influx of their friends sharing quiz results and automatically assume the source is safe.
Understandably, not all quizzes have bad intentions. Regardless, it’s better to avoid them altogether. The less you share your PII, the less you provide a chance for thieves to damage it.
Avoiding romantic scams this Valentine’s Day
Romance is not the only thing lost to Valentine’s Day scams. As mentioned above, your money and valuable personal data are also at stake. If you notice a breach in your account, please contact our member service center promptly. At Achieva Credit Union, we aim to help our members fight fraud and resecure their accounts.