valentine scamValentine’s Day has hackers rubbing their hands in metaphorical glee.

They know the chance of fooling people into clicking on suspicious links or downloading something they shouldn’t, increases by several orders of magnitude as vast numbers head online to make purchases.

Here’s what to watch for when online for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day online scam no 1 : Email Phishing for love?

The tried and trusted email phishing scam is bound to be plentiful as Cupid shoots his arrows. You can expect to see a raft of emails hawking everything from flowers and chocolates to jewellery and Valentine-themed breaks. A recipient simply needs to click on the link in the email body.  Almost inevitably a user will be taken through to what looks a like a bona-fide website and asked to part with their credit/debit card details to make the purchase.  But you’ll probably end up paying for a product you never receive.

There’s also the classic Trojan phishing attempt. If you click on a suspicious link you end up unwittingly and unknowingly downloading a Trojan that secretly installs itself on your computer, scoops up all your information and sends it back to hacker central, and you become a victim of identity theft. You could find your details either for sale on the deep web or used to make purchases.

E-cards? (or Scam no 2 to get you to download malware)

Another scam to watch out for is e-cards bearing declarations of undying love, or admiration. Like phishing attempts these cards will contain a malicious link that will attempt to woo you, into downloading malicious malware. A little caution and common sense though should tell you to be on your guard. Is it likely that you would receive an e-card from someone you don’t know?

Single on Valentine’s Day? Watch out for online sob stories scams (scam no  3)

For the forlorn and loveless Valentine’s Day can feel like an echo chamber.  While it seems the whole world and the moon have someone to coo over, lonesome singles can feel those twangs of loneliness even sharper.

The unscrupulous take advantage of this on some online dating sites and set up false personas. Scammers sometimes approach people on social network sites or target online daters with wildly imaginative sob stories. These generally revolve around sick children or ailing relatives and while you may think you’re too sophisticated to fall for these somewhat obvious stories there are plenty who do. 

Valentine Day’s specials offers (scam no 4)

Valentine’s Day special offers abound, it’s simply the way of the commercial world we live in. One of the trends we’ve noted is emails containing offers to scoop up replica watches at a basement bargain price.  However, if you fall for one of these the only thing being scooped up will be your personal details.  It’s easy to spot these scams – the layout of the email, design and so on, are amateurish.

How about some Valentine’s Day love on Social Networks? (scam no 5)

Social networks are a common platform for Valentine’s Day scams. The common denominator is posts that look as though they have come from friends, and therefore by definition are trusted. The golden rule here is beware of poems, love letters and other messages that have generic greetings. It could be a way to spread rogue apps with malicious links or designed to spam your friends.  The ultimate aim of these apps is often to send people to bogus web sites or get them to fill in online surveys. The spammers get paid according to the number of surveys people complete. And you unintentionally end up annoying your social network friends.

Share love, not your sensitive data!


6 Tips to keep your identity safe from theft this Valentine’s day  

  • Be wary of e-cards – don’t click on links if you don’t know who has sent the e-card
  • Be very wary of links in emails. If you don’t know who sent you the email bin it immediately.
  • Be careful on social network sites and treat Valentine Day-related applications and links with narrow-eyed suspicion.
  • If you’re using an online dating site treat sudden declarations of undying love with the scepticism they deserve – otherwise you might be in for a nasty surprise.
  • If you receive offers or are directed to websites where the prices are stunningly low consider that they are for a reason, that is, it’s likely to be a scam.
  • Make sure you’ve got good and comprehensive security on both your computer and smartphone that provides full identity theft protection.

Think of your friends, share these tips! 

avatarWritten by Steve Bell (80 Posts)

Steve has a background in IT and business journalism and in the past has written extensively for both the UK national and trade press including The Guardian, Independent-on-Sunday, The Times, The Register, MicroScope and Computer Weekly. He's also worked for most of the world's largest IT companies in a copy and content producing capacity. He has a particular focus on IT security and has been involved in writing about the industry at various levels ranging from magazine launches to producing newsletters. He also runs a small copy writing business called Art of Words. When not bashing away at a keyboard he can sometimes be found in a boxing gym making futile efforts to keep fit or marveling at the works of Sufi poets such as Jalaluddin Rumi and Hafiz of Shiraz.

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