Surrey/North Delta Leader

Valentine's scams can be heartbreakers, BBB warns

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Valentine's Day is a day for romance and expressions of love, but like all holidays and major events,  it's also an opportune time for scam artists to take advantage of those looking for love and steal their hearts­-and their money.

"Valentine's is an emotional time for many people," says Danielle Primrose, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). "But if you're not careful, you could fall victim to a Valentine's Day scam."

For those who are searching for love or are already in a relationship, the BBB warns people to watch out for these scams:

Online dating and social media websites invites

First, you receive invitations to connect on social media websites or dating websites. Scammers target singles of any age and in any location, creating fake profiles designed to convince their victim to send them money in the name of love.

Tips: Remember, it's not a good idea to friend everyone who sends you an invitation. Do not reply to any message from someone you don't know. Remember, when it comes to communicating with someone via the Internet, what you see is not always what you get. You don't really know who's on the other end. Don't fall for a person who claims to be in love with you at first sight. Scammers usually use emotional ties to increase the chances of getting your money. If your match asks you to pay for the travel expenses, or money for a family emergency, there is a high probability that it is a scam.

eCards

Valentine's Day eCards are greeting cards which come via email. While many are legitimate, others can be attempts to steal your personal information by directing the recipient to a fake website to download a virus.

Tips: Make sure you only open emails, attachments, and links from people you know and stay away from "secret admirer" eCards. Update your email filters to block any such threats. Watch out for other unsolicited emails with subject lines like "Someone just sent you an e-card" or "Send your loved one a Valentine's Day card today."

Online gifts

Consumers filed over 500 complaints across North America regarding Valentine's florist orders last year. In many cases flowers went undelivered, or the wrong order arrived. If you go online for a daily deal, remember, while it may seem like a good price, the company may not fulfill the order in time, especially if there are hundreds of other orders to complete. Lastly, if you go online to purchase gifts watch-out for pop-ups ads offering discounts. These ads may have terms that commit you that you've agreed to join a fee-based membership program. Then the small recurring charges will appear on your credit card or bank account.

Tips: Consumers should make sure to read the terms and conditions before making any online purchase, and check out the company's BBB rating at www.mbc.bbb.org. Consider shopping locally with a business you know rather than one you found online.

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