Problems of the heart; scams come in Valentine giving

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Every business owner expects every delivery to be perfect, say Georgia Wells-White, owner of Boise at its Best Full Service Floral, but it doesn’t always happen.

In business for 16 years, Wells-White says just last year she had occasion when there was a bad delivery.

“We were doing so well, we apparently got cocky,” she says, of the bungled floral delivery. “The people called – and I take every call – and complained. We gave them a new arrangement and a big box of chocolates.”

That’s difference of dealing with someone locally she says.

This is among the busiest time of year for floral shops around the nation, and persons interested in sending flowers can fall prey to faulty florists, pesky package phishing, evil e-cards and conniving catfishing.

“Customers expect something nice,” Wells-White says. “And when it isn’t, or looks different from what they ordered online, it’s easier to deal with someone locally.”

To avoid problems, remember:

Faulty Florists Valentine’s Day still ranks first for fresh flower purchases and is the No. 1 holiday for florists, according to aboutflowers.com. Not all florists are equal in service.

• Confirm that the florist fulfilling the order is the contact for follow-up communication. Make sure you have the florist’s street address and phone number if you need to adjust your order. It is not uncommon for a third-party to be involved with fulfillment during periods of high demand. Request a written receipt and get the business’s refund policy in writing if a delivery is late, incorrect, never arrives or is in poor condition.

Pesky Package Phishing Many consumers order Valentine’s Day gifts, having them automatically shipped. Cyber criminals are aware of this trend and have created phony package delivery phishing emails. The emails are official looking, fraudulently using trusted companies’ logos to trick consumers into divulging personal information that can be used for identity theft. The emails claim the recipient must click on a link or enter personal or financial information to re-confirm the order or there was an issue with billing and the account information must be re-entered.

• If you receive an email about a package or delivery you do not expect or did not send, do not open it. If you suspect someone sent you a package and you are receiving an email delivery confirmation, call the shipping company through their known telephone number, not one listed in the email, before opening the message. Be especially careful with any unexpected emails asking you to download items or click on links.

Evil E-cards E-cards are a popular way for consumers to send funny or thoughtful greetings to loved ones. Scammers have been known to set up fake emails directing the receiver to a bogus website that appears to be Hallmark or American Greetings. Recipients who open the E-card may be prompted to download the latest version of a software to view the card. If this program is installed however, it will download a virus that can give a scammer access to computer files and personal information.

• Pay close attention to links and files before clicking or downloading them. Verify the web address by hovering your mouse over the link first to see where it is actually taking you. Enhance email filters and keep up updated anti-virus and malware software. Overall, be sure to only open E-cards from people you know and trust.

Conniving Catfishing A new label for an old scam, catfishing occurs when a scammer assumes a persona on a social networking site and creates a fictitious identity using the pictures, hobbies, interests and even friends of someone else. While the purpose for doing so varies, the most common progression is to develop a relationship in hopes the scammer will be able to ask for and receive money from the love interest. This scam has grown with the popularity and increased use of social media sites. It targets those who may be lonely on Valentine’s Day.

• If you begin corresponding with someone online, be cautious of anyone says they have instant feelings of love, claims to be from the U.S. but is overseas and is continually cancelling face-to-face visits because of tragic or unexpected events. Be suspicious if the person hints they are in financial trouble or if you are asked to wire transfer money. Never wire your own money unless you know and trust the receiver on the other end. Do a search of the name, text of a message or profile description in Google to see if similar information is used by others. Some criminals create multiple profiles and use the same information over and over.

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