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Romance Red Flags: Avoiding Valentine's Day Scams

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - They attack the most vulnerable at the most vulnerable time.

We're talking about scammers who use Valentine's Day to rip people off.

It's pretty low for scammers to victimize the elderly but this is proof with a capital P that scammers have no heart.

With Valentine's Day being all about emotions, that's something scammers prey on.

"You need to be safe," said Bree Fowler, a CNET Cyber Security Expert. "There are a lot of lonely people out there, who this time of year can be vulnerable."

Scam attempts can come from just about anywhere on the internet.

"Phishing emails are still the most common method, but we're seeing all kinds of stuff, texts, phone calls, robocalls, or even scam QR codes are a thing these days," Fowler explained.

According to Fowler, the goal of these scammers is to get people to click on links they should, and the ploys are aimed at your wallet by way of your heart.

"People are out there looking for love, and hackers and cybercriminals are trying to target these needs and these desires of people," she said.

Fowler said to listen to that voice in the back of your head questioning if it's right if it's legitimate, and not to click on anything or offer any personal information.

WATCH: Avoiding Romance Red Flags

A big way scammers will come at people is through social media, but research on those people is essential.

"It'll be somebody who wants to meet, wants to get to know you, thinks you are attractive," Fowler said. "Check out their social media profiles. Profiles that don't have a lot to them, I think you should be skeptical of anything that was maybe opened up in recent months."

Most importantly, according to Fowler, is to keep the deeply personal information to yourself.

"Whatever you do, don't send banking information, keys to your crypto wallets, or anything like a social security number to someone you just don't know," she said. "Just because you think you know someone online, you still probably don't."

It's not just romance on social media apps, it's also retail Valentine's scams.

"When you see something that's a limited-time offer, or they have absolutely have to hear from you right away, that should be a red flag, as well," Fowler explained.

That said if it's something that truly interests you, Fowler says to go to the main website and ignore the emails and attachments.


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