6 Ways to Protect Your Heart Online this Valentine’s Day

Almost every aspect of our society has been vastly transformed by the inescapable spread of technology, and love is no exception. With Valentine’s Day this week, we’ve all got love on the brain, and here at FixMeStick we want to make sure you’re safe and secure online.

Did you know that around 15% of US adults have used online dating sites or apps? And 29% of Americans know someone who has met a spouse or long-term partner online. Online dating experiences are especially common with people aged 55-64. In fact, the percentage of users in this age group has doubled since 2013.

Romance scams continue to be on the rise.

With so many people looking for love online, the lure for cybercriminals to exploit this community has risen substantially. Most people believe they wouldn’t be gullible enough to fall for romance scams, but as the old saying goes, ‘love is blind’. In 2016 the FBI received almost 15,000 reports of romance scams, totaling roughly $230 million in losses. The worst part is that romance scams are vastly under-reported, as most victims are too embarrassed to come forward.

However, don’t be discouraged from searching for ‘The One’ online. Instead, look for the tell-tale signs that your online pal isn’t being upfront with you. By educating yourself and those around you about the tactics of online fraudsters, you’ll be protecting your financial and personal security, but most of all, you’ll be protecting your heart.

The most prevalent dating scam is what’s called a ‘catfish’. These are people who pretend to be someone they’re not to pursue deceptive online romances.

3 Warning Signs Your Online Sweetie Could Be a Catfish

1. Their profile seems fake

Romance scammers will typically create fake dating profiles by using stock photos or actual stolen photos as their profile picture. Often they claim to be military personnel, airline workers, or medical professionals, as these are professions that are widely considered trustworthy.

You can search by image by clicking the camera button to the left of the microphone option.

If you’re suspicious, you can use Google image search to see if their photos appear elsewhere. There are also many Facebook groups dedicated to raising awareness of scam profiles. If you’re not sure you trust your flirty new friend, always do some research and get a second opinion.

2. Rapid emotional investment

Fraudsters tend to shower victims with love and affection right off the bat, messaging constantly throughout the day. This type of behavior has been called ‘love bombing’. The goal is to quickly establish a strong bond so the victim is easily swayed into sharing personal and financial information. One romance scam victim described the feeling as similar to being brainwashed.

Dating sites often monitor their forums for suspicious profiles and activity. So if you meet someone and they ask to chat on a more private channel, they may be doing so to avoid being exposed. If your romantic interest asks you to take the conversation elsewhere, it’s safest to decline.

3. They ask for money

If your romantic interest starts asking for money, or for your financial details, stop and think. The requests may start out seeming innocent; what could be harmful about a few dollars here and there? But it can quickly ramp up, and before you know it you could be giving out large sums of money under the pretense that they will pay you back. The urgency of their demands may become more and more frequent, and could even become threatening.

No matter how convincing they seem on their promises to return the funds, you’re likely never to see that money again. So never send money or banking details to anyone you don’t know well. This may seem like a no-brainer, but scammers are increasingly skilled at charming their victims into trusting them with their financial information.

6 Ways to Protect Your Heart While Looking for Love Online (and from Scammers in General)

1. Protect your location

  • Turn off location services on your smartphone in settings
  • Disable geotagging in your internet browser’s settings on your computer
  • Use a VPN to encrypt your searches and hide your IP address

2. Keep your personal information to yourself

  • Avoid using your full name, giving away your birthday, age, and location
  • Some things are stored in your browser, so be sure to check your digital footprint and reset your browsers regularly
  • Be careful setting up real-life meeting points with anyone you meet online. Always meet in public and tell someone you trust about the potential encounter

3. Use a trusted antivirus with a firewall feature

  • McAfee Total Protection shields your computer from threats in real time when you’re online
  • The firewall feature acts as a safe-search tool in case of typos or other mistakes that can get you into trouble

4. Clean your computer regularly

  • Run regular FixMeStick scans to make sure your computer is free from viruses
  • Like your car, your computer needs regular maintenance. Try System Mechanic to optimize the speed of your PC – we’ve got special savings for all you sweethearts out there

5. Change your passwords

  • Best practice is to change your passwords regularly
  • Never share your passwords with someone you meet online
  • Be careful not to give hints that could help them guess your passwords either

6. Report scammers

From all of us here at FixMeStick, have a sweet and safe Valentine’s day!

12 comments

  1. Marie - Reply

    Thanks for the advice I had one guy try to get money out me I told my girl friend I told him to f…k off some the lines they give you special when you are widow thanks again you all have a happy valentines💕💕💕💕💕💕

    • FixMeStick - Reply

      Hello Marie, thanks for your comment! Hope your Valentine’s Day is full of (real) love!

  2. Anonymous - Reply

    Happy Valentines Day to you all at Fix Me Stick too ! Thank you for the information you send out . It is nice of you to help educate people like me that are learning to use all this modern technology with no education to speak of. Hope you all &yours, have a satisfying Valentines Day when your work day is done . ( I am quite sure u get the meaning in that!!!!!) Adios, Maureen A. moe1365390@gmail.com

  3. Michael - Reply

    Please remember that these are not only on dating sites, but social media sites as well. When on a social media site check their profile, you may see the names of people from other people you have encountered. See whom their friends are, and pay attention to where they live. Also remember that these scamers will want you to send them iTunes or Amazon cards.

    • FixMeStick - Reply

      Hey Michael, thanks for the tips! You’re right, it’s important to keep a look out especially on social media.

  4. Gregory Fernandes - Reply

    I just got my FIXMESTICK and i am not looking for love on line but the scammers are
    out there , i will be using my FIXMESTICK to clean the crooks out of my Computer
    Thanks Team.
    P.S. Thanks for the advise.

  5. Anonymous - Reply

    Sirs; I was charged $47.69 on Jan 8 for my fixme stick. How long is this good till? Is it auto renew at end of this period? Steve

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