How to Protect Yourself From Online Dating Scams

It’s Valentine’s Day, meaning it’s a great opportunity to gift that special someone the present of cyber security, which is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Although I’m sure many people are savvy with the ins and outs of protecting yourself from cyber scams and hackers, you may not be as familiar when it comes to scammers in the word of romance.

Scammers Will Often Try Different Tactics During Different Holidays

Online scammers will often use dating sites and apps to build relationships with people in order to gain access to their money or personal information. While there’s nothing wrong with someone trying to steal your heart, just make sure that they’re not trying to steal anything else.

Dating scammers often fabricate similar stories to achieve their end goal. They’ll often lie about where they’re living and where they’re working, creating distance between them and the person they’re scamming. We’ve heard it all: people working at oil rigs, working for the military, or even “doctors” who are employed by an international organization – anything to lull you into a false sense of security.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is what these scammers are chasing – your money. After conversation seems to be flowing for a bit, they’ll begin pursuing their goal using a variety of tactics, such as asking you to:

  • Pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
  • Pay for surgery or other medical expenses
  • Pay customs fees to retrieve something
  • Pay off gambling debts
  • Pay for a visa or other official travel documents

Scammers may also ask you to wire money or load funds onto gift cards, as these methods are often difficult to trace AND can’t be reversed after they’ve gone through. 

Things to Keep in Mind While Online Dating

If you’re worried about falling victim to one of these scams, or simply interested in arming yourself with knowledge, here are some things to keep in mind!

  • Do some research on your date’s pictures and profiles. Catfishing is still a very real thing in 2020, so if the person you’re speaking to seems a little iffy, it’s always good to see if their profile is legitimate. Try reverse searching their picture to see if anything pops up! 
  • Never provide any financial information or personal information. While the whole point of dating is getting to know one another, being too nosy can definitely be a red flag. If someone starts asking for information regarding your finances or maybe something a little too personal, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. 
  • Don’t let yourself be isolated from family and friends. Scammers will try to isolate you from the people in your life in hopes of getting rid of their input on the situation. Whether you’re seeing them online or plan on seeing them in person, isolation is never good!
  • Don’t believe their stories and excuses. First it starts out with helping pay for their brother’s operation, next thing you know you’ve lost your credit card information to a person you’ve never met before. If their stories seem over the top, it’s best to follow your gut. 
  • Before meeting them in real life, know what you’re getting yourself into. Be sure that you meet in public spaces, and inform someone of your location and your itinerary. 

If you or someone you know ever happen to be in a situation like this, the best course of action is to simply end the conversation. Scams typically require action on your part to actually take place, so by dropping the conversation, you’ve effectively dropped the scam.

Whether it’s a random call from Microsoft, or an online date requesting money for a business investment, scams seem to be rampant nowadays. You can find out about protecting yourself online by reading our Internet Safety Tips. Always better safe than sorry!

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