Beware of online Valentine’s gifts fraud, agencies share how to protect yourself

Local News

MISSION, Texas (KVEO) — You’ve likely come across someone on your social media feed selling baskets, treats or other goods for Valentine’s Day. Though this may be an opportunity to surprise someone you love with a gift while supporting someone in your community, you’ll want to pause and verify some information before making an order.  

Hilda Martinez, South Texas Better Business Bureau (BBB) interim president, says the pandemic has led to an increase in people looking to make money any way possible, and that includes taking yours.

Around holidays, these efforts increase.  

To make sure you get what you pay for, she advises getting as much information from the person you can, including a phone number, email and address.  

The worst thing you can do is give out your credit card number, which can create a larger problem.  

“There might be a small individual just trying to make ends meet, especially now with the COVID and they’re just creating these baskets for Valentine’s day, but your best bet would be to try to get the merchandise first before actually paying for the merchandise,” she said.  

Martinez adds the best thing to do is to shop instead from a BBB verified local business.   

According to Mission Police Spokesperson Art Flores, anybody can make a fake profile to advertise goods online, accept orders and not deliver.   

If it happens to you, he recommends reporting it to your local law enforcement agency with as much detail as you have. Depending on the amount stolen, the individual may be charged with a class “b” or “c” misdemeanor.  

Additionally, you’ll need to be careful with how you decide to meet up.  

“Just be vigilant and have someone with you,” he said. “If you go meet with someone, try to get a license plate or description of the vehicle just in case something does transpire from it, at least you can have that information to share with law enforcement.”  

Flores adds your chances of getting a refund typically depends on the policy of the company used to pay, but there’s no guarantee. However, it’s important to report the crime to try to help prevent others from being taken advantage of as well. 

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