Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and while embracing the romance spirit is fun, be careful not to fall victim to romance scams. Scammers are well aware that some people may let their guard down, hoping for a chance at love, and that's why, in 2022 alone, around 70,000 individuals reported being victims of romance scams, causing a loss of $1.3 billion.
Getting caught in a bit of fraud is embarrassing, but finding out you’ve been had by someone you thought was special hurts that much more. Unfortunately, you cannot see all fraudsters through Tinder or Plenty of Fish reviews, but they can help you stay informed and be cautious.
- Watch out for common romance scams like catfishing, or online dating scams, and gift card scams.
- Other Valentine's scams include false advertising, unauthorized data usage, and those pesky "failed" deliveries.
- Prevent falling victim to fraudsters through secure online shopping and communication practices.
Nobody wants to be a victim of catfishing or gift card scams. A little skepticism and alarm could be your best pals to avoid the Valentine's Day scam blues. Explore the most common fraud types and gain practical tips to navigate them successfully.
Top Valentine’s Day Scams
You can expect terrific sales for Valentine’s Day, but sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re going to get, as one AT&T customer discovered and shared in their complaint. In their AT&T review, they stated:
I bought a new iPhone at Walmart … It was a Valentines special. I was supposed to make payments for three months for the phone and then get refunded.
However, when the customer tried to take advantage of the special, he discovered all was not well. The reviewer explained, “I went to upgrade but still owe $400…"
Another customer took advantage of a Valentine’s Day sale and ordered tableware for almost $1,000. Rather than beautiful new plates, the company sent them a vague response stating:
…your order came up for internal review and was determined ineligible for process. All orders are subject to approval.
The customer’s order was denied, the place settings were never delivered, but “Lenox is refusing to remove the pending charge on my credit card for $969.56,” creating financial strain.
Issues with delivery of gifts and purchases is one of the biggest Valentine’s Day scams we see at PissedConsumer. Customers order flowers, candies, and gifts for loved ones, but their purchases never arrive, arrive damaged, or are of poor quality.
One Premium Florist reviewer ordered flowers only to receive nothing. They claim they “asked for my returned money, and they never reimbursed.” The customer had no flowers, no refund, and plenty of aggravation.
Another customer described in their Temu review that they ordered a “sweater for Valentines Day” but “never received The order.” The customer is frustrated and disappointed.
Fake Events and Tickets
Unfortunately, scammers often trick consumers into fake events and tickets on Valentine's Day. You should always check the venue and the announcement across other sources before making a purchase. If the event description looks suspicious or the website that sells tickets to it doesn’t have proper refund policies upon cancellation, you'd better opt out of this opportunity and look somewhere else.
One college student discovered this the hard way when she bought tickets for a speed boat ride. Unfortunately, as their Groupon review states, when she arrived at the dock, "the tickets didn't appear to the lady that was running the tickets." The employee advised the student to "just call and get my money back," but Groupon had not refunded their money in the two months after requesting the refund, and the reviewer claims:
I used to think Groupon was trustworthy because it's not the first experience I purchase from them, but I am NEVER buying anything on Groupon again!
Hacked Gift Cards
You might get an excellent offer to buy a gift card for your favorite food chain. As tempting as it might be, those cards are prone to hacking, and the companies may refuse to pay damages. You should make sure the security tape is not removed and look for signs that the card’s packaging is untouched.
A Cashstar reviewer received a virtual gift card for Valentine’s Day only to discover that $245 was missing from the card after activation. The customer claimed :
There is no customer service and no transaction history…I can't believe that major companies would allow this to happen to their customers…Shame of you Cashstar.
Unauthorized data usage
Occasionally, all goes well with a romance purchase and delivery, but trouble follows. Information sales, data leaks, and other problems can create problems with unauthorized data usage for some shoppers.
In one of the Light in the Box reviews, a customer received the items they ordered from a website but discovered after delivery that someone in the company used “all of [their] information for cable services and other things.” The reviewer claims:
I've tried deleting my account on the website but it will not let me and I find that very strange. This whole ordeal it started to be very costly to get my name and money back.
Valentine’s Day can be a lonely day for some folks, so they head online looking for love. However, instead of finding love, they find scammers waiting to take their money after a whirlwind romance.
Catfishers prey on loneliness by offering romance and saying all of the right things. Bear in mind that catfishers first make connections and then ask for a bit of cash or a gift card to help with an expected expense or other financial favor.
No dating site is immune from scammers. One Silver Singles reviewer found plenty of them on the platform, including someone the consumer reported, and then “the SAME JERK came up in my matches under a different name.” The reviewer finalized:
Not sure Ill trust any guy again because this site has a bunch of fakers. Unbelievable.
Another customer complained about scammers on Facebook dating and said she was “professionally catfished” but when she tried to get help from Facebook customer service, they “would not help at all.”
Tips to Avoid Valentine’s Day Scams
Conduct thorough research
Don’t buy or sign up in a hurry without doing a bit of research on your own. Visit the company’s website and read the policies to ensure it is reliable. Check online reviews to see if others have flagged the website as problematic or the source of Valentine’s Day scams.
Be cautious with online expressions of love
Instead of finding love, you might find scammers waiting to take your money after a whirlwind romance. Enjoy the fun of a bit of flirting, but don’t send anyone money if you haven’t met them in person.
Avoid click-through emails
Rather than clicking through the email, simply type in the URL of the website. This will keep you from clicking on fake links or going to sites that are designed to look like real stores. Valentine’s Day scams may design such sites to look like real stores, but they won’t send you anything, but the fraudsters will certainly take your money and your personal information.
Secure your personal information
Your personal and financial data should always be secured online, especially on holidays like Valentine’s Day when scammers are prevalent. Use third-party systems, such as reliable digital wallets or credit cards, to pay for items to add a layer of protection if you’re shopping on unknown websites.
Remain vigilant online
This holiday presents a wonderful chance to cherish moments with your loved ones. However, remain vigilant as online Valentine's scams are expected to be widespread this year. Fortunately, you can confidently protect yourself and have a safe celebration by proceeding with caution, carefully scrutinizing everything that seems too good to be true, and avoiding compromising your personal information and finances.
Had issues or narrowly avoided a Valentine’s Day scam? Consider recounting your experience with others.
1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
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