Brittany Van Vliet
Looking for a sweet Valentine's deal? Beware of scams...
This is the time of year that cyber criminals like to play with your heart, you are the object of their affections, according to a security research firm.
Over the past two years, Check Point Research says it has observed them using the word "Valentine" as an arrow in their quiver during the month of February to lure unsuspecting romantics to malicious websites.
In 2018 and 2019, the use of "Valentine" on malicious websites jumped more than 200% from previous months in 2019 and 2018, the largest increase throughout the year. Turns out cyber criminals are sweet on the word "chocolate," too. In 2018, they used the word nearly 500% more as bait in February, scams love for the use of "chocolate" dropped in 2019, up only 39%.
So why is Valentine's Day such a favorite among cyber criminals?
It's the perfect facade. They can mask their shady business in a heart shaped scam, such as getting you to download malware, by hiding out among the many legitimate Valentine's Day websites. According to Check Point Software Technologies Research, in the first week of February alone, people around the globe visited more than 10,000 domains containing the word "Valentine."
Last year, an email campaign reportedly spread ransomware around Valentine's Day with subjects such as: "This is my love letter to you."
Protect your heart and your wallet from scams:
Here's how to make sure you don't fall for one of these not so sweet deals:
Verify you are placing an order with a legit website. Search for retailers on the internet and click from the search results, instead of clicking on promotional links in emails. Avoid ads from sites that you've never heard of, that show up in search results.
Do your research before jumping at those "special" offers that sound too good to be true. An 80% discount on the new iPad is usually not a reliable or trustworthy purchase opportunity.
And keep your eyes peeled for efforts to fool you with lookalike domains. Also common in these scams are spelling errors in emails or on websites and unfamiliar email senders.