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Tips For Staying Safe Online During Valentine’s Day

By February 9, 2022January 10th, 2024No Comments

Valentine’s Day brings out the passion and kindness we have for love and online scammers know that consumers are more open to accepting cards, gifts and invitations during the holiday. Below are a few tips for safeguarding yourself while on your journey to find love online.

1. The Dark Side of Dating Websites

Dating websites – and modern dating apps – are a prime target for hackers. There is a peak in online dating activity between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, and cybercriminals are ready to take advantage of the spike in activity on popular dating sites like Tinder.

When a user is asked to “look at my other profile,” this is most likely a scam! Be careful about links to another website. Scammers will often try to remove you from the relative safety of the site you are on.  If you receive a shortened URL, you can usually expand them to see where they end up.  Also try searching the link and if nothing comes up ignore it.

2. Greeting Cards From the Grave

In elementary school, who didn’t love receiving dozens of paper Valentine cards delivered personally? Fast forward to 2021, electronic greeting cards (e-cards) evoke a similar thrill, but with instant gratification.

Opening an e-card can speed up malware onto your machine or turn your computer into a spam-sending member of a botnet. Don’t click on links to download software to view a card. Instead, go directly to a company’s website to open it. If the e-card is legitimate, there will be a confirmation code that allows you to open it directly on the website.

Dating Online

3. Spam Valentine’s

During the holiday’s everyone seems to have the best deal in town on jewelry, flowers and even chocolates delivered exclusively to your inbox. But wait!  Before you go all out for your hunny do your research!  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is especially true if the email is coming from a retailer that you haven’t done business with or doesn’t address you personally. The links in these emails can download malware or redirect you to a fake website to fool you out of personal information including your address and credit card information. It’s better to shop at known retailers than trust spam websites set up to take your money and leave you heartbroken.  

4. Fake Flower Shops

Just a few hours remain until Valentine’s Day, and you can’t find time to shop. Instead, you turn to the Internet to send flowers to your Valentine. It seems like a quick and easy solution but maybe you should stop and smell the roses.  Hackers know this is the easiest way to dupe you out of your credit card information.  

If it’s a flower shop under a sponsored link, this means they paid for you to see the ad and it did not arrive organically. If it’s a long-time, family-run business, they will most likely have a physical location. You can also look for reviews on Google to make sure others have ordered from the shop and have had a good experience.

5. Rogue UPS Notifications

Although this happens all year round, there has been an uptick around the holidays and around Valentine’s Day. Yes, it is exciting to receive packages at your door. But, do not click on UPS notifications that are generic and lack detailed information.

If you received a package, the notification should have your name and the item details. Clicking on a fake link will likely download malware or send you to a spammer’s website.
 

6. Love Bots

Having an open private message system will likely result in you receiving a lot of messages from people wanting to chat. Additionally, some dating websites will send you multiple daily messages by email claiming that user x, y, and z would like to chat with you.

Most dating bots will cycle through a canned script of a dozen or so phrases before claiming you need to be “verified” in some way. This will inevitably lead to a request for payment information. Don’t do it!  Contact the service directly to confirm they are legit before giving away any of your information.

 

7. Keep it Personal

Make sure your dating profile is not geotagged, whether you created it through a website or an app. Some dating websites use your location to show you matches within a certain radius, but that can be dangerous.

Get familiar with the granular controls on the dating website’s settings and make sure you understand the differences. Many mobile apps aren’t clear about “which thing does what,” so if in doubt, disable a particular feature until you can be 100 percent sure of the functionality being used and whether you want to use it.

And lastly, do not put your real name, age or location in your profile, email or anything else related to the dating website you’re on. Anonymous usernames are fine. You should also use a disposable email address when you sign up for a new dating service. The goal of this is to keep people you’d rather not stay in touch with away from your main mailbox, it’ll also be obvious if a dating website decides to sell your email to spammers. This is a good trick to use outside of online dating, too.

 
Remember dating online can be fun but if you don’t stay safe it can come at a cost.  If your employees are searching these sites during the holiday it is important you have your companies hardware protected.  Reis Informatica can help get you set up!  So call us today for a complimentary consultation!
 
 
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