As Valentine’s Day approaches, there’s no escaping the gifts associated with this romantic holiday – from flowers to chocolates to an endless assortment of red and pink gifts. Our email inboxes are no exception to this rule, as at this time of year they are flooded by Valentine’s Day e-cards, advertisements and articles. While it’s easy to get caught up in the warm and fuzzy feelings of this holiday, beware of cybercrooks who are quick to adjust their scams to fit the season. Here are some of the most popular online scams that are sure to appear this Valentine’s Day:
During this holiday everyone expects to receive greetings from their friends and loved ones. What better way to show someone you care than by sending an e-card? They’re easy to send and fun to receive. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of this popular trend by using these greetings to spread online threats. If you open an e-card you receive unexpectedly, you could make your computer vulnerable to malware. Clicking on the link provided in these spam messages could lead to the installation of a Trojan on your computer. Another likely scenario is that the Valentine’s Day themed spam message is a virus that, when opened, will make your computer part of a botnet.
Phishing scams are also prevalent around Valentine’s Day. Scammers will send phony emails in order to get victims to divulge personal information. For instance, a cybercriminal could pose as a florist requesting credit card information in order to complete your delivery. By clicking the link provided in the email and entering the necessary personal information, you are sending your information directly to the scammer. Never enter your personal information this way (an important rule for any email you receive). If you think the request is legitimate, call the company directly to verify the information in the email.
Online Dating Scams
The build up to Valentine’s Day also typically leads to an increase in online dating scams. Cybercriminals use online dating sites to set up phony accounts in order to attract unsuspecting victims. These criminals are extremely adept at appealing to legitimate users. Once trust has been established, the cybercrook, posing as a romantic interest, will request money from the victim for an expensive item, such as a plane ticket or the healthcare of a sick family member. After the money is wired, the victim loses not only their love connection but also a sizeable chunk of change.
Cybercriminals are very good at adapting their scams to the current season in order to pray upon the vulnerabilities of people during this time. Valentine’s Day renders people particularly susceptible as the holiday focuses on having that special someone – a difficult time to face if you’re single. Whatever your romantic status, don’t fall for the common traps that are sure to pop up this Valentine’s Day.