Scammers want to get close to you on Valentine’s Day—close enough, that is, to swipe your credit card number, steal your personal information, and infect your computer with a virus that lets them plunder your address book for future victims. 

How do they do this? One of the most common Valentine's Day scams is through impostors in which con artists trick you into believing they are a legitimate business—an online florist, for example, or an e-card website. Others are phishing scams, which use fraudulent websites and fake emails to attempt to steal your personal data, especially passwords and credit card information. 

Three of the most common Valentine's Day scams include:

Bogus e-cards. Scammers count on your curiosity to open an electronic greeting card when you see an innocuous subject line such as, “Someone you know just sent you an e-card.” Or they circumvent your suspicion by directing you to a website that mimics one of the popular greeting card sites, such as Hallmark, American Greetings, or PaperlessPost. When you click on the link to open the card, however, you’ll load malware onto your computer that opens the door to endless spam for you and your address book contacts. 

Protect yourself by looking for the confirmation code that proves that the card is legitimate. Use your browser to open the website; don’t just click on the email link.

Phony package delivery. Scammers piggyback on gifts or flowers that were ordered online by creating phony delivery emails. If you receive an email about a package you didn’t send or a delivery you don’t expect, don’t open it—especially if it asks you to download a form or click to a separate website. Otherwise, the package you receive could be a nasty virus.

If you receive an email delivery confirmation, be sure to verify the delivery with the shipping company on the phone before opening the email. It could be one of many Valentine's Day scams.

Phishing through flowers. Phishing emails try to fool you into revealing credit card and other personal information. Especially effective among Valentine’s Day scams are emails claiming to be from a florist: They warn you that the bouquet you ordered can’t be delivered unless you log in and re-enter your credit card information. This scam works because it reaches enough people who actually have ordered flowers and are worried that their nosegay might not show up on time. However, what shows up on your next credit card statement won’t smell sweet.

Protect yourself by not clicking on the link and certainly don’t enter your credit card information. If you have questions about the delivery, call the florist directly.

Share the love on Valentine’s Day—just don’t share Valentine's Day scams.