BBB Cautions Online Daters to Valentine's Day Scams

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Online dating has always had its concerns…but they become magnified every year as Valentine’s Day draws near. The search for that special someone can cause some to let their guard down and end up a victim with a broken heart.

“Romance scams come in many forms, but they usually start out with the scam artists expressing feelings of affection” said Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford office of the Better Business Bureau. “First they build trust and then move quickly toward the rip-off.”

The Better Business Bureau has joined with Western Union in an effort to protect those searching for love online. “The warning is never send money to a person you have not met” stated Horton.

For online dating scams individuals need to look for red flags. Beware of anyone who:

• Asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service, as this allows fraudsters to carry out scams without the dating site having a record of the encounter
• Claim to be from this country but are currently travelling, living or working abroad
• Asks you for money or credit card information
• Sends you emails containing questionable links to third-party websites

Other scams to watch for include:

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.

Instant Messaging
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 and personal information is compromised. 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.

What else can consumers do? Visit BBB Scam Stopper, a site launched by Western Union and BBB to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of a scam.

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