Cybersecurity Tips Newsletter
February 7, 2024

Be Smart When Looking for Love Online

Be Smart When Looking for Love Online

Many love stories now begin in the online dating world, and several apps and websites dedicated to finding a romantic match have grown popular in recent years. Unfortunately, cybercriminals increasingly infiltrate these apps, preying on users looking for companionship.

“Romance scams” can leave victims emotionally broken and financially drained. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2022 nearly 70,000 romance scams were reported, with total reported losses from these scams reaching a staggering $1.3 billion.

Romance scammers carefully gather as much information as they can about a potential victim when first connecting, posing as the perfect match. If the target has a hobby, the scammer will claim to have the same hobby and other shared interests, like favorite music, movies, and other entertainment. They will then leverage these false connections to gain trust and eventually access to personal information and money.

When dating online, follow these tips to protect your personal information:

  • Be skeptical of new matches. Approach any online interaction with healthy skepticism. Question discrepancies in details about their lives, as well as “sob stories” that necessitate an urgent transfer of money. Be wary of early or overeager confessions of love, especially if they precede a request for financial help, including sending gift cards or depositing money in a bank account.
  • Verify identities before taking the next step in a developing relationship. Do some research and be sure your romantic interest is really who they say they are. Use ‘reverse image’ searches on their profile photos and cross-reference information they’ve shared about their personal life. A genuine person will understand your need for caution and should provide information to build trust.
  • Protect your personal information. Remember, these scammers are professionals who will comb your social media or other online profiles for any bit of information they can leverage to build a false connection. They will appear caring and trustworthy. Keep your social media profiles private and think before posting photos or other personal content. Never share your home address or financial information.
  • Use trusted platforms. Research online dating platforms and choose reputable and established apps. The more popular and well-known platforms often employ the latest security measures to detect and prevent scammers. Look for good user reviews that highlight user safety being a priority. Keep in mind that even the most secure platform will have scammers as users. These criminals can be members of large, sophisticated, organized criminal enterprises that have learned to skirt many of the safety measures put in place.
  • Be open with friends and family. Share your online dating experiences with trusted friends or family members. These outside points of view can offer valuable and impartial insight. Loved ones can offer emotional support if a potential love interest turns out to have ulterior motives.
  • Watch for red flags and use your best judgment. Trust your instincts; if something with an online connection doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Do not send explicit photos, as these can be leveraged as material for blackmail. Never offer financial information, deposit money in banks, or send cryptocurrency, or gift cards.

Remember that sincere connections and relationships take time. Trust and understanding are the foundation of any relationship, personal or otherwise. By staying vigilant and informed, you can help create a safer online environment for everyone.

Additional Resources

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When dating online, follow these tips to protect your personal information.