Love is in the air, and many people are turning to the internet to find it. We all know someone who has met their significant other online or at least is having a good time while trying to find them by dating a few people they’ve met through dating apps or services. But are they giving away more than their phone number?
Valentine’s Day scams are at an all-time high and when you consider that from 2015 to 2018, they quadrupled in number to an approximate 21,000 reported hoaxes, and we can only assume that this year will be even higher. While it’s reasonable to search for a companion online, this is one time you need to think with your head and not your heart. Love – or the process of seeking it – can make us vulnerable to these scams and crimes that leave you feeling not only lonely but maybe even exposed and broke.
So, what exactly happens? With online dating profiles, you have to include photos and information about yourself to find a good match. What you’re also giving away is valuable information to cybercriminals who may want to extort money or other identifying information from you. The location information, details about your hobbies, likes, dislikes and other personal profile data can be a gold mine for criminals who thrive on taking advantage of you, through spear-phishing attacks or various other scams.
How do you protect your heart and your wallet? While the following should be applied as general rules over any relationship, they are especially important to follow if the relationship is solely based on electronic communication. That includes but is not limited to a communication based on emails, phone calls, or texting.
- Don’t share intimate or private photos
- Don’t send money – or any type of extravagant gift
- Don’t provide any unique identifying details about yourself
- Don’t share passwords
Even if you do meet in person, take measure to investigate this person by doing a quick online search. Ask a trusted friend for their opinion. The term ‘blinded by love’ came into existence for a reason, so see and think clearly, and stay smart.