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3 Valentine’s Day Scams to Avoid This Feb. 14

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Whether you’re single or have a sweetheart, scammers are looking to prey on you this Feb. 14. But if you know what to look for, you can protect yourself and have a lovely holiday. Here are three Valentine’s Day scams you should avoid.

Phony flowers

More likely than not, you’ll be buying or receiving an arrangement of roses — or your flower of choice — this Valentine’s Day. If you’re the one who will be doing the buying, thoroughly vet a florist before sending them funds in exchange for blooming buds of love.

In the past, consumers have fallen prey to online or over-the-phone to scams by people posing as florists only to end up without a bouquet on Valentine’s Day. Before you purchase from an unfamiliar seller, check for customer reviews, look for a Better Business Bureau accreditation and — when possible — ask friends for their local florist recommendations.

And if you’re having your tulips delivered straight to your love on Feb. 14, the BBB recommends you request a guarantee in the event your flowers are wrong or don’t make it to their destination.

Catfishing

In 2015, the BBB warned consumers to be on the lookout for catfishing schemes, and you can bet the trick will run rampant this year as well.

Recognized by MTV viewers everywhere because of the popular reality show bearing its name, catfishing (or catphishing) is a term used to describe the act of trying to lure someone by creating a deceptive online profile.

If you turn to an online dating site to find Mr. or Ms. Right this Valentine’s Day, be sure the person you’re communicating with isn’t a fraudster looking for your cash. The BBB’s designated red flags to look for include: requests to wire money, professions of love within a short period of time, and suspicious stories about sudden emergencies that prevent you from meeting the online Romeo.

Email spam

Perhaps most common among today’s email users is the spam scam. This time of year, inboxes will be flooded with offers for discounted flowers, jewelry and the like. But before you click on any links or purchase from any websites, be sure the online business you’re visiting is reputable.

Some scammers can create emails and online offers that look as though they’re coming from a reputable site or business when, in fact, they are not.

The AARP recommends this method of ensuring a website is valid: “Before clicking on links, carefully read website addresses to spot copycat websites selling cheap counterfeits. Hover your computer mouse over the link, without clicking, to see its ‘real’ address.”

And if your Google search for the perfect gift idea causes you to stumble upon a business you’ve never shopped at before, always research the seller before you buy. It’ll give you peace of mind and potentially protect your bank account.

Follow these tips to ensure your holiday is filled with love and roses instead of scams and hoaxes.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.


Image via iStock.