How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

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If you’ve ever taken the time to watch Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler, that may have been enough to put you off online dating for life. The thought of one man conning a handful of women and pocketing over $10 million is certainly sobering. According to ExpressVPN’s report, online dating scams saw $547 million being lost during one year alone. 

Does all of this mean that we should be leaving dating sites in our droves, or are there steps that can be taken to protect ourselves from scams? The good news is that there are simple measures that, if followed, can keep you safe and secure.

Knowing what to look out for

Before considering how to keep yourself protected, it’s worth considering the types of scams that exist on dating sites. This information alone may be enough to sound alarm bells and keep you safe. Here’s a look at some of the most popular scams taking place right now:

  • Photo scams – it’s understandable that you may want to share photos with each other when looking to date via an online site. After all, how honest is anyone with how recent their profile pics really are? The watch out here is when someone tries to build trust and rapport so that you quickly send intimate photos of yourself. These photos are later used to blackmail the user. It’s a case of handing over money or seeing your naked pics leaked.
  • Looking for assistance – a scammer will take time to get to know and get you onside. They’ll share a sudden sob story when they believe you’re emotionally invested. It could be that they’re extremely ill but can’t afford medical bills. It could be that their beloved mother is on death’s door, but they can’t afford to travel and see her. Whatever it is, there will be a need for money, and it’ll be you they’re looking at to provide it.
  • Military scam – this common scam sees someone pretend to be a military member and that they’ve been sent overseas. It will take a little time for them to get close, and then they’ll be looking to you to pay for their food and housing costs.
  • Malware scams are when a scammer sends you a link to click on. When you do this, your data is accessed, and the scammer is able to steal your details.

So, how can you stop yourself from being the next victim?

We’re not looking to scaremonger, as we know online dating sites have their place. There are plenty of success stories where people have been brought together and found exactly what they were looking for. However, you still need to know what actions you can take to keep yourself secure. These tips are here to help:

  • Keep your personal details just that – naturally, you’re going to want to get to know each other, and the time comes when the next step needs to be taken. However, stop and think before you willingly give away your personal details. Your full name, address, and date of birth can all be used to target you. Also, stop and consider the username you select – some people include the state/town they live in as part of this. Even this is too much information to be giving away to a stranger.
  • Never send or receive money – if you’ve never met a person, don’t send them any money. Yes, there may be some very convincing sob stories, but don’t let anyone tuck at your heartstrings and persuade you to send funds. Make sure that you don’t receive money either – plenty of scams are carried out this way, and it’s just not worth the risk.
  • Stick to trusted sites – trusted websites have measures in place to protect you. They also allow you to record any communication with other members. A scammer will initially make contact via a dating site, but they’ll soon want to communicate elsewhere. Resist the urge to share social media details or to send your phone number.
  • Beware of webcams – just be careful what you allow to be recorded. You never quite know how this footage will be used.
  • Trust your gut – we all have that gut instinct. If yours is telling you that something is wrong, then you need to walk away. 

What to do if you’re already talking to a scammer

First off – don’t panic. It could be that someone is perfectly innocent and is just looking to get to know you better. If you want to put your mind at ease, there are some steps that you can take. These include:

  • Search for their profile photo – if you use Chrome as your internet browser, this tool is very handy. If you right-click on an image, it will allow you to carry out a Google search for the image. That will indicate whether this is genuine and provide insight into where else it’s being used.
  • Ask to talk on the phone – don’t share your phone number here! You should message via the dating site and ask for their number. If the phone number has an area code that doesn’t make sense, or if you speak and there’s an accent that’s not expected, you may be dealing with a scammer.
  • Talk to your bank – if you’ve gone a step further and shared financial information, all is not lost. Get in touch with your bank as soon as possible. You may need to block your card or cancel certain transactions.

Final thoughts 

There are plenty of success stories regarding online dating sites, and there is no reason to give this a wide berth. Just follow the simple steps that we’ve covered so that you can protect yourself from the scammers that are attached to these sites. 

 

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