It seems like every single person I know has a profile on at least one dating site. And, considering our fast-paced lives, it’s no surprise that even falling in love has been streamlined and digitized. With reputable, BBB-accredited businesses like Match.com and eHarmony, I think it’s one of the best things to happen in the Internet-age. But, even great ideas have their downfalls – and not every dating site, or suitor, can be trusted.
Just a few weeks ago, for example, a close friend of mine told me she had been chatting online with someone who worked abroad. Things were going really well, and she was hoping to meet him as soon as his work brought him back to the United States. And that’s when things started to get weird. He mentioned to her that he was short on cash and wasn’t sure how he’d pay for his hotel in the coming weeks. Because she was a member of a trustworthy site, she was able to block him and protect herself from any damage he could’ve done. Unfortunately, not everyone is this lucky.
According to an FBI report from earlier this year, online dating scams are on the rise—with some people losing as much as $150,000 to money launderers. These thieves come in many shapes and sizes—and we’ll get to that in just a minute—but, the truth is, you never really know how these types of scams will evolve. Could a scammer use your personal information to hack into your computer and gather passwords to your financial records? It’s possible.
The FBI has two major recommendations that will help you stay safe while you’re looking for love. First, stick to a dating site with a national reputation, such as those mentioned above. Second, watch out for the following tell-tale signs of common online dating scams.
Are you chatting with Prince Charming or a scam artist? Know the warning signs:
- Scammers often use fake profile photos—if he/she looks like a supermodel beware.
- Conversations that move quickly from harmless flirting to sharing strong feelings of love or admiration—hackers use this trick to gain your trust before asking for money or other personal information.
- Pressure to switch their method of communication from the dating site to e-mail, instant messaging, or texting.
- People who claim to be from the U.S., but are traveling abroad or working overseas.
- Reluctance to meet in person; or a last-minute cancellation of a trip to visit you due to a tragic event or financial difficulty.
- Mentioning strains on finances, requests for money to pay for travel, medical bills, hotel bills, healthcare, visas or other official documents.
Remember, always listen to your gut. If a situation feels uncomfortable, utilize the blocking tools available on notable dating sites to keep yourself safe. You are under no obligation to continue chatting with somebody who pressures you into sharing personal details with them.
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of online dating, but it’s important to remember to keep your data safe, too! The good news is, IdentityForce is here to help, with services like UltraSecure, which monitors your personal information and records, alerts you if anything unusual happens, and helps you stop the thieves before damage can be done. That way, when you’re planning your next Friday night date, you can do so worry-free.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Irina Patrascu.