BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and the Better Business Bureau is releasing tips for romantic consumers. If you're looking to buy a Valentine, you may be a target to scammers.
Review these tips, to help avoid a scam:
Florists – According to aboutflowers.com, Valentine's Day is the number one holiday for florists. Unfortunately, not all florists are created equal. Typical BBB complaints around Valentine's Day state the flowers were not delivered as promised (wrong flowers or arrangements) or they were not delivered at all.
• BBB Tip: Place your flower order very soon allowing enough time for shipping and verify directly with the florist that the date/time is specified and guaranteed. Request a written receipt for the order and ask about the business's refund policy if the delivery is late, never arrives or is in bad condition. Confirm that the florist you contact is actually the florist fulfilling the order too. At this time of year it's not uncommon for a 3rd party to be involved. Make sure you know their actual street address and phone number just in case you need to adjust your order.
Jewelers – The National Retail Federation states that 19.7 percent of people will treat their special someone to jewelry, with total spending equaling more than $4.4 billion, the majority of which will be spent on the most precious gem of all - diamonds.
• BBB Tip: Do some research on the criteria jewelers use when selling a diamond so when you go to purchase a ring you will know exactly what the salesperson is talking about. Diamond scales are established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and a diamond's value is based on four criteria: color, cut, clarity and carat. BBB recommends you know how to buy a gem before you go and GIA can get you started with their 'how to buy guide'. Ask your salesperson to write down any information you may rely on to make your purchase. Always ask for the stores refund and return policy before you buy.
Gift cards - The gift that keeps on giving will also be on the top of Valentine shoppers' lists with 15 percent expected to buy gift cards for their loved ones, totaling to $1.5 billion.
• BBB Tip: If the card is scratched or damaged it is virtually useless. To be certain your card will carry its full value - purchase cards that have no value until the store clerk loads on your amount. Verify the protective stickers have not been removed and that the unique PIN number located on the back of the card is not exposed. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
Catfishing – Millions of Americans utilize online dating sites to search for that perfect match and it can be a very successful way to meet someone special. Scammers are also using the sites and targeting singles of any age and location, commonly now known as catfishing. This is accomplished through the creation of fake profiles designed to steal identity information, financial details or simply money.
• BBB Tip: Do not fall for someone who is quick to develop a relationship and claim instant feelings of love. Scammers use emotional ties to increase the chances of their success. If your "match" asks for money to cover travel expenses or has a sudden emergency requiring an extensive amount of money, there is a high probability that it is a scam.
Phishing E-mails and E-Card Viruses – As February 14th approaches, everyone expects the usual notes of love or e-cards to arrive via email. Cyber-crooks are well aware of this and use this time of year to trick many of us excited to get a love note into divulging personal and financial information through false alerts from fake greeting card websites, problems with your gift order or credit card that actually download viruses to steal personal information.
• BBB Tip: Only open emails, attachments, and links from people you know. Enhance email filters to block any such threats. Watch out for unsolicited emails with subject lines such as, "Someone just sent you an e-card" or "Send your loved one a Valentine's Day card today." If you ordered flowers and receive an email indicating a problem, directly contact the florist to ensure the e-mail is legitimate – chances are it is not.
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