Better Business Bureau Warns Against Valentine’s Day Scams
HASTINGS, Neb. (Nebraska) — Last-minute Valentine’s shoppers should be on the lookout for scammers as there are four of them regularly reported to the Better Business Bureau.
The National Retail Federation suggests consumer spending this Valentine’s Day will reach nearly $26 billion. And with so much money spent, it’s important to watch out for imposter websites, romance scams, wrong number scams, and fake florist scams.
“For people who are looking for gifts or traditional jewelry, chocolates or flowers, all of which are great gifts, obviously, but scammers know these are hot items too,” said Josh Planos, vice president of communications and public relations at BBB.
Planos said that out of the handful of reputable sites that provide these gifts, there are some that aren’t.
When it comes to imposter websites, you can find everything from fake jewelry sellers to online dating sites. The BBB said it has become easier for scammers to remove official photos, logos and more to create an attractive website that looks like the real thing. Some things to keep in mind might be websites with products offering extreme discounts, sellers asking customers to pay with money or cryptocurrency transfer apps, or if customer service is unreachable.
Another scam that the BBB tends to see the most in February and March is romance scams.
Scammers often target vulnerable people who have experienced a recent breakup or other hardship.
Planos said scammers take advantage of this by making a connection and gaining sympathy. Once they’ve captured their victim with a sad story, they begin pursuing their true goal: money.
“This is truly a devastating week for consumers every year,” Planos said.
Some red flags are when relationships are moving too fast, you aren’t meeting in person, or if they ask for money.
Wrong number scams are another thing people should be aware of. If you receive a text from someone, you might think it’s okay to reply, but they’re trying to entice you into a conversation and get your personal information directing you to join an adult site.
Watch out for messages that don’t stop or if a sender directs you to sign up for a website.
Finally, when ordering flowers online, be careful that you visit a legitimate site and purchase flowers that will eventually be delivered. Consumers should double check if there are no reviews on the website, a return policy, or if the deal seems too good to be true.
“It’s a special time every year,” Planos said. “It’s also a time to be aware of what you’re signing up for and understand the terms and conditions of the product or service you’re hoping to get.”
If you encounter a suspected romance scam, cut off all contact with the perpetrator by blocking their accounts and phone number. Then, report your experience to BBB.org/ScamTracker. The dating site users should also report suspicious activity to the platform, so that they can take action against the scammers’ account.
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