Don’t let cyber criminals break your heart this Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and whether you’re shopping for a gift for a loved one or searching for the love of your life, make sure you stay safe online.
During busy retail periods when online activity increases, cyber criminals often launch phishing attacks in an attempt to get hold of personal information.
And during the run-up to Valentine’s Day, dishonest attackers will also look to play Cupid by targeting those on dating sites who may be feeling a bit lonely during what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.
There were 3,889 reported victims of romance fraud in 2016, who handed over some £39 million, marking a record high for such fraud.
Follow the tips below to keep your heart - and your purse strings – well protected this Valentine’s Day.
Phishing, vising & smishing
Unfortunately, in a world filled with so many means of communication, cyber criminals have a range of methods at their fingertips.
Be wary of malicious emails, suspicious phone calls, text messages or social media messages asking for personal information. Just because something looks official doesn’t mean it is official.
Spelling & grammar
One of the easiest ways to tell if an email or message is a possible scam is to check for poor spelling and grammar.
Official emails are often checked several times before the send button is pressed, so you can expect a low, almost non-existent number of typos and grammatical errors. Fraudulent emails don’t tend to go through the same process and you will often find typos in them.
URLs can’t always be trusted
Most of us will be enticed by tantalising offers in the build-up to 14 February but it’s important that, before clicking a link, you check where it leads.
It is always best to hover over URLs with your mouse to preview the link address. If the links don’t lead where you expect, report the email or delete it immediately.
And stay wary on social media, too. Scammers are increasingly using social websites to promote and push seemingly great shopping deals. Never click on a link from a stranger or unknown organisation sent to you via social media as it could well be a scam.
Don’t get too attached
If you think links are dangerous, attachments can be even worse.
If you receive an email with an attachment, don’t open it or fill in any forms unless you know exactly where the email has come from.
Save your minutes
Most organisations will never call you directly and ask for personal information or log-on details. Odds are, if you get a phone call claiming to be from an organisation asking for such info, it’s likely to be a scam.
The person calling may insist they’re legitimate, but you should always inform them that you would prefer to hang up and contact the organisation yourself. After you’ve done that, find the official phone number online and call it directly.
Whether you’re purchasing a bundle of flowers or a romantic getaway, always check for the HTTPS lock icon at the top of your browser. If it’s not there, buy your gifts elsewhere as the padlock indicates security measures have been put in place.
Don’t get reeled in
Stay aware this Valentine’s Day and don’t let scammers take advantage of your romantic nature.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
Alternatively, you can report any fraudulent activity to ActionFraud by visiting: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Published date:  08 February 2017