John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

Valentine’s Day scammers want to break your wallet

Approximately $13 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day each year. This includes candy, cards, jewelry, dinner, etc. For those already in love or looking for love, Better Business Bureau provides tips to keep your money and heart safe.

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According to Statistic Brain, an online dating site, about 180 million cards are exchanged on Valentine’s Day. Also, more than $116 is spent per person on his or her sweetheart.

Scammers will do whatever they can to steal your personal information. There’s several scams targeting those in love and looking for love. Beware of bogus e-cards; phony package deliveries; phishing e-mails; and catfishing or fake online dating profiles. Unfortunately, these scams trick thousands of people annually, taking millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims.

When shopping for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, BBB recommends following these tips:

• Watch out for deals that sound too-good-to-be true.

• Save all receipts and/or e-mail notifications regarding your Valentine’s Day purchase.

• Beware of refund and return policies. Many stores will allow specific or no returns on seasonal items.

• Beware of someone avoiding face-to-face contact when using an online dating site. It could mean the person on the other end isn’t who he or she says he or she is.

• Get everything in writing, including all fees in regard to online dating sites. Make sure you read everything carefully.

• Keep all communication on the dating site. Avoid using personal e-mail accounts or social media.

• Be wary of someone asking for financial assistance to pay for travel, visas, medication, hospital bills or a financial setback.

• Never send money to someone you’ve never met no matter how serious or desperate the situation sounds.

• Consider shopping nearer Valentine’s Day. Retailers may lower prices on candy, cards, flowers, etc. to move them out.

• Pay by credit card not with a debit card. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.

• Beware of e-mails with embedded hyperlinks since they could simply be phishing attempts to steal your private information and passwords.

• Be wary of purchasing items online. Make sure the Web site is secure. The web address should begin with “https”. Also, look for a picture of a lock in the lower right corner of the screen.

• Trust your gut instinct.

Remember, you can always get help from BBB, like a list of BBB Accredited florists, candy shops, dating sites, etc. and BBB Business Reviews on one’s you’re considering. Contact your BBB by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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