As with most online activities, online dating sites attract fraudsters and imposters. With more and more people turning online to seek company, fun, or even love, the threat is increasing. If you are considering heading online to date, it is essential to be aware of the common tricks used on online dating sites and the dating profile features that should arouse suspicion so that you can avoid ‘romance scammers’. With the approach of Valentine’s Day, cybersecurity expert, BullGuard, has some useful tips to help keep you safe when online dating.
Choose the information you share carefully
Sharing personal information on dating apps and websites comes with risks. There’s the chance of your information being spread via hacking, or the app or website you’re using may share your data with third parties. You can provide a sense of your personality but be careful about oversharing or revealing specifics, especially personal details that might reveal where you live or work as they can also be used to steal your identity. This rule also applies to your family and friends’ details.
Beware of fake photos
Model shots or suggestive photos should ring warning bells. Real profiles will more likely include selfies and photos showing ‘normal’ surroundings. Many sites authenticate the users’ photos so you can look for the approved symbol to be absolutely sure. Watch out for exceptionally small photos or ones with blurry corners where a watermark may have been removed. You can try a reverse image look-up online to see if a photo has been taken from a website and check that the photo and profile description do indeed match.
Very little or incomplete information on profiles should be a warning sign that something is not right. Genuine people will complete their profiles and include detailed information about their ideals and interests. Scammers who are casting their nets wide rarely put in much effort.
Be wary of spelling mistakes
Many online dating scams originate abroad where English is not the main language. Therefore, suspect profiles will often present with poor spelling and grammar. A poor translation is a red flag to warn of a fake profile.
Do not be fooled or harassed into handing over money
This might seem obvious but it’s worth reiterating to never give away your bank details or passwords to someone you have met online. Scammers can invent compelling hard-luck stories in an attempt to dupe unexpecting victims which usually takes the form of a time-critical emergency. They can be extremely convincing, especially if they have played a long game, but any requests for your financial details or any payments are highly likely to be fraud. You may even want to consider reporting the person to the police to help avoid anyone else being conned. Most dating platforms have a reporting tool too.
Too good to be true
Some scammers present polished profiles that paint themselves in an incredibly positive light, for example, occupation, material wealth, exotic holiday destinations, international property portfolio, fleets of luxury cars and so on. As with most things online, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Be cautious if the person you meet online states that they have been looking for you all their life or that they cannot live without you. Both are tell-tale signs of a classic trick played by cyber-fraudsters on dating sites, known as ‘love bombing’. Regardless of how much you may like your new, exciting digital relationship, if their feelings and sentiments seem excessively strong within a short time, then it could very well be a love bomb scam.
Stay where you are
Criminals want to take to the conversation to other platforms that are less regulated and which have better encryption. This will allow them to request information or payments from you without creating evidence. Until you can meet in person, stay on the dating website’s or app’s messaging service.
Finally – Do your checks
If you suspect a person isn’t who they say they are then it is better to be safe than sorry. Type ‘dating scam’, a few of their details and repeatedly used phrases into a search engine to see if any complaints or allegations have already been made about them.
Nat Maple, Chief Marketing Officer at BullGuard said:
“It’s also important to be careful when messaging someone until you are certain they can be trusted. For instance, a criminal may pose as a genuine online dater to infect your device with malware that steals banking information. With this in mind, don’t download attachments or click on links they send in emails until you can establish their sincerity. Most profiles on dating sites are genuine but they are a well-known hunting ground for predators of all shades. The bottom line is to tread cautiously until you know them better and run good Internet Security on your devices to protect you against malware that might come your way via online dating.”
BullGuard is an award-winning cybersecurity company focused on providing the consumer and small business markets with the confidence to use the internet in absolute safety. We make it simple for users to protect their data, identity and privacy – at home, in the office and on the go.
The BullGuard product portfolio extends to PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone protection, and features a comprehensive product suite, including internet security, mobile security, identity protection, an easy-to-use VPN with military-grade encryption, and BullGuard Small Office Security, a dedicated, cloud-managed endpoint service designed specifically for small offices. BullGuard released the world’s first IoT vulnerability scanner, real-time Home Network Scanner and unique Game Booster delivering the most secure and optimized gaming experience for PC Gamers. Today, BullGuard continues to lead the cybersecurity industry in providing innovations.