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Don't let love blind you to scams

Love might be in the air this week but so are shysters looking to part you from your money.

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Consumers know red roses, chocolates and undies aren’t likely to be on special anytime around 14 February, but they don’t expect to be the targets of scams and rip-offs. Here's what to be wary of around Valentine's Day.

Beware of online florist ZFlowers

Online florist Ready Flowers last year boasted 500,000 customers worldwide, and a fast and efficient service. The company reinvented itself this year as ZFlowers, now with even more customers worldwide and glowing testimonials on its website. We suggest you steer well clear. The internet is full of horror stories from people who paid for flowers from this company and didn’t receive them. Or received them, but they were way less than what was expected. Ready Flowers has featured on Fair Go and has been the subject of litigation in Australia.

Romance scams

Beware the romance scams. If you’re looking for love online this Valentine’s Day be wary of anyone needing financial help. Whether it’s a medical emergency, family problem, legal issue, employment or business opportunity – they all have something in common: they need money from you, and lots of it. Some scamsters are so clever they manipulate hapless victims into offering assistance without even asking.

Our tips for avoiding trouble:

  • Never direct-deposit money into the account of a person or business you don’t know. Think twice before sending money to someone you have only recently met and never provide personal account information.
  • Be careful about how much personal information you share with strangers.
  • If you agree to meet a romantic prospect in person, tell your family and friends when and where you are going.
  • Avoid any arrangement where a stranger asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer.
  • Be wary about becoming involved with someone who is only contactable by mobile phone, email or social media.
  • Scammers prefer to communicate privately to avoid detection, so be cautious if you are asked to move your correspondence off a dating website.
  • Complete an image search through Google to ensure the person has not stolen their profile photo.
  • Don’t share compromising material with anyone, as scammers may use this information to blackmail you.
  • Be alert to spelling and grammatical errors, inconsistencies in stories, and if their camera never works when you want to Skype.