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The Madison Record

Valentine’s dream deals may be nightmares, BBB cautions

MADISON — Valentine’s Day is no exception to the holidays or events that activate scan artists with schemes — not Valentine’s dreams, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of North Alabama warns.

(CONTRIBUTED)

Social media scams flood Facebook with posts that attempt to lure users to malicious websites, BBB President Michele Mason said. “Beware of any ‘free’ giveaways, like flowers, perfumes or vacations. These ‘giveaways’ take you to a third-party site, where your personal information can be compromised.”

With ‘phishing’ ploys, consumers receive an email that states gifts or flowers can’t be delivered because of credit card problems. The email has a link to a “spoof site,” requiring the consumer to re-enter credit card information, Mason said.

“Ecards” appear as an online greeting card in a friend’s email. “When you attempt to download the card, malware (destructive software) goes to your computer and compromises personal information,” Mason said.

An instant message can invite an individual to pursue a romantic, online chat. “The infamous ‘Flirt-bot’ is a great example of an automated program that tries to get victims to share information about themselves,” Mason said. “Then, it takes the victim to a website page that requests a credit card number, supposedly for proof that the person is older than 18. This is a ‘phishing’ attempt.”

“Catfishing scams” use online dating sites and target single individuals. “The scammer creates a fake profile, reels in the victim and then asks for personal information or money,” Mason said. “If you match requests for money to cover travel expenses or a sudden emergency, there is a high probability it is a scam.”

In addition, consumers should only use Valentine apps or games for a mobile device, like a SmartPhone, from trusted application markets. “Read the fine print,” she said.

“Remember … if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Mason said.

For more information, call 256-533-1640 or 800-239-1642 or visit northalabama.bbb.

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