A reader: I did some online shopping for my guy for Valentine’s Day. I ordered a couple of things and now I’ve received an email that tells me to click on the “hearts” icon to get my Valentine’s message. I can’t tell who sent it. It looks really cool but I’m afraid that it might not be a legitimate site. How can I find out?
Action Line: It’s great that you are moving forward with caution. That’s the first right step in this process.
During the Valentine’s Day season, we often do see emails that are sent to unsuspecting consumers to offer goods and services or electronic greetings. Those unsuspecting consumers have fallen prey to the scammers that use these type of solicitations to get you to click on an icon to get your Valentine’s message. But what you might be doing is allowing a scammer to download malware onto your PC or other electronic device.
This type of scam also can come to you in the form of an email advising that whatever you ordered has been delayed, is on back order, is out of stock, etc. You could also receive texts or popup messages. My first recommendation is to delete email and text messages that ask you to divulge your personal information like credit card numbers, bank account numbers, your Social Security number, passwords, etc.
If you get a Valentine’s Day email from someone you don’t know, do not click on anything. Don’t follow the link. A legitimate online greeting card site will give you a confirmation code so that you can look at the card without comprising your computer. You can hover your mouse over the link, without clicking, to see if there is a real address.
If a scammer is able to download malware from the link you clicked on, they may contact you to offer a “fix” for a large fee, usually hundreds of dollars. Don’t become the next victim.
If you have received something that you think might be a phishing scam, please forward the original email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com. Don’t forget BBB’s scamtracker, www.bbb.org/scamtracker.
If you have been scammed by a phishing email, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint. Victims of phishing emails also can become ID theft victims. So, if you’re not sure who or where it came from, don’t click on it. Victims of phishing scams can graduate to becoming the next ID theft victim.
If you’re not sure, don’t click.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.