Online Dating Tips: How To Stay Cyber-Safe While Dating Online

Online Dating Tips: How To Stay Cyber-Safe While Dating Online

Did you know that 1 out of every 10 online dating profiles is fake? If you’re swiping on an online dating account, chances are you’re looking at more fake accounts than you realize. But there are ways that you can spot a fake profile to protect yourself against identity theft, phishing scams, or other cybercrime. 

Here are a few ways you can spot phony profiles and protect your personal information from cybercriminals looking to exploit your data: 

“It’s Really Hard To Find Me Online”

If you’ve ever talked to someone you’ve met online, the first thing most of us usually do when meeting them is Google their name to learn more about them. What do they look like? What are their interests? Most importantly, are they a real person? No internet user is new to spam emails, fake accounts, and cybercrime in general, so you might be skeptical and search for this person online

If you cannot find any online footprint of the person you are talking to, this is a red flag. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some people out there who have a minimal digital presence. There are many people who don’t use social media or don’t have any articles written about them online, for example. However, most people have information about them online, such as employee biographies that could be required for a job or social media profiles. 

If you cannot find anything about this person online, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re skeptical of this person being real, you should go with your gut and cut off contact. 

“Can I Have Your Number?”

At some point, if conversation is going well, many people who meet on dating apps or websites will ask to move the conversation elsewhere. Instead of messaging on the app, the person you're talking with might ask for your number. While this is completely fine, be cautious who you give this to. If you see there are other red flags or signs that make you feel uncomfortable with giving out your digits, don’t hand it out.

This is not to say you shouldn’t ever give your number out, but just make sure you’re giving it to the right people. If you cannot find this person online, don’t give them your number. If they ask for too much personal information, it is okay to tell this person you don’t feel comfortable answering their questions until you get to know them better. 
Be cautious and look out for things like spelling mistakes, seemingly copy and pasted messages, or the person professing their love to you way too quickly. These are all signs that the person you’re talking to might be fake and looking to exploit you. 

“Transfer Money To This Account”

The main goal of online dating scammers is to steal money from you. This can be done in a few different ways. One way is by asking for personally identifying information from you. The cybercriminal might ask for your information like your mother’s maiden name, your passwords and logins for accounts, or banking information. If anyone from a dating site is asking for any information that seems too personal, do not give it to them. 

Online dating scammers also might try to get this information on their own by hacking into your device. In order to prevent this, download antivirus software to all your devices you’re talking to this person on. That way if they try to hack your device through phishing scams or malware downloading, you know your software will protect you. 

Another way they might try to steal from you is by creating personas and sob stories to go along with them. For example, someone you just met online could ask you to transfer money to an account. They could start off small and ask for a few dollars to help them buy groceries, then things will escalate, and they might ask you to transfer money to an account to help them pay off debt. These are tactics they can use to make you feel bad and transfer money to them that they promise they will pay you back. But before you get a chance to ask for it back, you can no longer get a hold of them. 

Cybercriminals might also ask you to transfer money to an account because of complications with their checking account. They will transfer you money and then ask you to transfer it to different accounts. While this sounds harmless because they are not taking money or asking for it, there might be something more sinister happening. Scammers have done this in the past to rope others into a “money mule” scheme. To help hide a paper trail of money laundering affairs they might ask you to transfer the money they give you to different accounts. If anyone asks you to do this, whether you met them online or not, don’t give in. There is no reason someone you just met should be asking you for this favor. 

For those who are involved in online dating, being cautious is the number one rule. You need to be able to spot key red flags and react to them appropriately. If a person seems too good to be true, chances are they probably are. Make sure you’re keeping your personal information private and don’t respond to any other phishing scams, you never know if they could be attached to this person. Overall, as long as you’re being careful and watch out for these few gimmicks, you’ll be sure to prevent yourself from being involved in any online dating scam. 

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