Valentine’s Day: Don’t Let Online Scams Break Your Heart!

Valentine's Day scams 2014_header

February 14th is a day for love: couples celebrate their love and singles mingle. Regardless of which category you fall under, you’ll likely use the Internet to plan for this day. For example, couples might search to find a fancy restaurant for a romantic night, while singles might search for a love connection using an online dating website. But as you are celebrating your love, don’t let your guard down, as criminals are hoping you’ll fall for their scams.

Valentine’s Day Card Scams:
Have you ever had a secret admirer? The idea of having a secret admirer is exciting, as it leaves you wondering who sent you that candy gram. With electronic Valentine’s Day cards, cybercriminals are hoping you’ll be curious enough to wonder who sent it to you. Unfortunately, clicking on an unknown link within the email could direct you to a phishing site designed to steal your personal information. Also, opening or unzipping any attached files could distribute malware onto your PC.

How to protect yourself:
When it comes to electronic cards, we recommend that you avoid them completely. Even if the electronic card was sent from someone you know, it may be in your best interest to personally inquire with the sender in the event their email account was compromised. Hallmark, and your computer, will thank you for getting a card the old-fashioned way.

Fake/ Phishing Online Stores:
Back in December, we posted a blog on SEO poisoning and talked about cybercriminals poisoning search results to improve the ranking of malicious websites.

During Valentine’s Day, cybercriminals create malicious sites masked as restaurant discounts, flowers deals, or romantic getaways. When an unsuspecting person lands on the malicious site, their PC could be hit by malware, or they could be tricked into revealing personal information, which could lead to identity theft.

How to protect yourself:
Rather than entering keywords into a search engine when looking for deals, we recommend visiting a reputable company’s website directly. You can also consider installing tools, such as MyWOT to get a better idea of a website’s reputation.

Phony Online Dating Profiles
With online dating becoming increasingly popular, it’s important to remain vigilant about those you communicate with. For example, one woman was recently scammed out of $300,000 on an online dating website.

How to protect yourself:
Cybercriminals often will use images of attractive people to lure members to their profile. After receiving messages from other members, they’ll respond with a link to a malicious or inappropriate site.

Though not 100% foolproof, one way you can help check the validity of a picture in someone’s profile is to simply right-click on the image and select “Search Google for this image”.
Search Google for this image
From there, you’re presented with a list of pages that include matching images to help you decide whether the picture is legitimate or not. This specific method only works using Google Chrome, however you can perform this validity test by following these steps:

1) Save the picture to a folder on your computer

2) Go to and click on the camera icon
Google Images_camera

3) Click on “Upload an image” tab and click browse
Google Images_Upload

5) Go to the folder you saved the picture and press enter

So, this Valentine’s Day, celebrate your love, not the online threats. When using the Internet to book a reservation at a fancy restaurant for two, or to look for love, it really pays to be vigilant and sharp. Stay safe (online) and have a memorable Valentine’s Day!

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