Cyber criminals love Valentine's Day

Its not just retailers and hoteliers that are cashing in on the Valentine's Day's fever, but also cybercriminals, who are looking at new ways to spam netizens and steal personal information like credit card details, warn experts.

Be it offering great deals on flowers and dinners, or dating sites offering opportunity to meet singles, cybercriminals are actively looking at luring net surfers into divulging personal information and extracting money.

"We always warn people that if there is a deal, which is too good to be true, maybe it isn't. There is always an increased activity around holidays and such events.

Valentine's Day is one of these days, when people receive spam mails offering great deals of food, flowers, chocolates, gifts, etc," McAfee Product Manager Vinoo Thomas told PTI.

It is these deals that the user needs to be careful about, he added.

The user receives a spam mail offering a deal, which when clicked upon, directs the user to a malicious website.

"Not only does the person not get the product/service, their personal details like credit card information is also leaked," he said.

The week from February 7 to 14 is celebrated as Valentine's Week and terms like 'Propose Day', 'Chocolate day' and 'Rose Day' are most searched words online.

According to a report, the search word 'Valentine' started off only as a 20 per cent interest on February 3 in India which jumped to 100 per cent on February 7.

"This shows how people today are actively using Internet to search for Valentine's Day related information and that makes it a lucrative case for cybercriminals," Thomas said.

Another activity seen, especially during Valentine's Day is creation of fake profiles and malicious dating sites.

"These sites offer people a chance to go on a date. There is a large number of people who actually fall prey to sending money to these people without realising that its actually a scam," he said.

He added that educating people becomes important as new users are coming to the online world each day and they do not realise that such "deals" are not real.

Also, with real discounts on online shopping websites and social networking websites introducing contests and other attractions for the day doing the rounds, people need to be more careful in separating between the scam and the real deal.

"It is advised that users inspect such links closely. It is typical for spammers to use prominent events/brands such as Reader's Digest, or enticing contests to cloak their malicious schemes," Suchita Vishnoi, Head - Marketing, Trend Micro (India & SAARC) said.

Users should first verify with trusted sources about the existence of these promos to avoid becoming victims of such ruse.

Contacting the organisation purportedly behind the message by other means such as actual on-site visitation or a call on their hotline should also work as a way to verify if the message itself is in fact true, Vishnoi said.

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