As Valentine’s Day Nears, Watch Out for Romance Scams

As Valentine’s Day Nears, Watch Out for Romance Scams

With Valentine’s Day upon us, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reminds elders to be aware of romance scams and to “guard your wallet as well as your heart.” Below is an article from the CFPB on what to watch out for and how to protect yourself from such scams.

Judging by the flowers, stuffed animals, and chocolates on store shelves, Valentine’s Day is upon us. If you or your friends and family members are looking for romance, make sure to be choosy about that next sweetheart because anyone can become a victim of a romance scam . Perhaps your friend meets someone new and they both seem smitten quickly. After a few weeks, the new darling asks your friend to loan them money or wants control over your friend’s bank account. And that’s when you realize that your friend has fallen for a scam instead of a new love. These scams happen when a new love pretends to be interested in you as a way to get your money. In fact, they may not even be who they say they are.

Romance scammers focus on single people, often older adults who might be more trusting. Widows and widowers, LGBT elders, and isolated single adults are common targets, but scammers look for anyone eager for a new relationship. Romance scams can happen in person, but often happen online through social media or dating websites and smartphone apps.

Here are some common scenarios that may be a scam:

  • A new love who lives far away asks you to wire them money or share your credit card number with them—even if they say they’ll pay you back.
  • Your new romantic interest asks you to sign a document that would give them control of your finances or your house.
  • Your new sweetheart asks you to open a new joint account or co-sign a loan with them.
  • Your new darling asks for access to your bank or credit card accounts.

Protect yourself and others from romance scams

Romance scams are not limited to Valentine’s Day, so be smart about who you connect with, and save yourself the worry about Cupid’s arrow striking your wallet instead of your heart! Here are some ways you can protect yourself and your friends and family from romance scams:

  • Don’t give a new friend access to your money—including ATM cards, bank accounts, credit cards, or investment accounts.
  • Place an order of our romance scam prevention and awareness placemats and share with people in your community. The placemats can be used year-round to help educate older adults and others about romance scams.
  • Report any crimes to your law enforcement’s non-emergency number. If you suspect that someone is a victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation, report it to Adult Protective Services (APS). Find your local APS at eldercare.gov. If you think the person’s safety may be at risk, call 911.
  • Report romance scams and financial abuse to your state attorney general. Visit the National Association of Attorneys General website  for the contact information of your state attorney general.
  • Report suspected romance scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.