Akron police offer advice to avoid being scammed on Valentine's Day

AKRON, Ohio - The Akron Police Department, along with the Summit County Office of Consumer Affairs, has several tips to avoid being scammed this Valentine's Day.

- Social Media Sites: Use caution with links that look as if they were sent by a friend. When you click on that link, you may unknowingly share your information with scammers who might post on your page or send their information to all of your contacts. It is recommended that you use the strongest privacy settings.

- Flower Orders: If you receive an email or phone call explaining the flowers you ordered for your sweetie will not be delivered unless you give your credit card number, it's a scam. "Con-artists send hundreds of emails, and are hopeful that a few messages will reach consumers who really have sent flowers," explained the departments. If you think the message is real, call the florist first or go directly to the florist's website.

- e-Cards: Be careful opening a Valentine's Day eCard because it could be a phishing scheme to steal your personal information, or to infect your computer with spyware. If you get an email from "your secret admirer," experts warn not to open it. Update firewalls and anti-virus software on your computer or install them if you don't have any protection.

- Online dating: After meeting your perfect mate, proceed with caution. Scam artists often create fake profiles to lure vulnerable people into revealing personal information, or to ask for money because they are sick or have a relative who needs emergency medical attention, the agencies said. Be wary of free dating sites as they may offer less monitoring and protection than those that charge a fee.

- Ordering gifts over the Internet: Pop-ups offering discounts can have hidden in the print a message that tells you that you've agreed to join a fee-based membership program. Then the small recurring charges will appear on your credit card or bank account. If this has happened to you, you can call the Akron Police Department, Financial Crimes Unit at 330-375-2600, or the Office of Consumer Affairs at 330-643-2879, to file a complaint.

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