Valentine's Day is for lovers, but it's also prime time for scammers to use romance-themed ruses to steal money or identities.
"Cybercriminals love a good scam, and they especially love events like Valentine's Day, when people let them in by opening their hearts and their computer systems," Lloyd Borret, spokesman for the Internet security firm AVG, said in a statement.
"That surprise e-card could contain a whole load of heartache in the form of a hard-drive hack designed to steal your identity," Borret said. "That online flower purchase might only deliver problems through credit-card theft."
The Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio reports that these are the most-common scams and offers thoughts on how to avoid falling for them:
** Florist "phishing" scam -- This e-mail purports to be from a florist warning customers that flowers ordered for Valentine's Day won't be delivered unless the e-mail recipient clicks a link and re-enters credit-card information. Don't click the link or provide your card number, the BBB advises, even if the message seems to be genuine. Instead, call the florist or go directly to its website to verify.
** Online dating scam -- Scammers create fake profiles to con would-be daters into sending them money to pay for a trip to meet the intended date. The scammer keeps the money and doesn't show up for the date. Never wire money to people you don't know, the BBB says.
** Valentine's Day e-card scam -- Malware disguised as Hallmark or American Greetings e-cards are sent. When opened, the cards expose the computer to a virus. To avoid this, the BBB advises people not to open e-cards from people they don't know.