How to Protect Yourself From Dating Site Scammers
In a world where finding love online is becoming more and more popular, online dating sites are booming. While that is good news for singles everywhere, as with anything, there is a downside, too.
The dark side of online dating comes in the form of dating scammers who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting people. Whether it be identity theft or just an easy handout, online scammers spend their days browsing online dating sites looking for unsuspecting, innocent people to prey on.
The majority of people you’ll meet on good dating sites will be legit. But it’s safe to say that almost everyone will come into contact with at least one scammer in their lifetime. So, while exploring the web for that special someone, there are a few precautions you need to take to protect yourself and avoid walking into a scam.
Choose your online dating sites carefully
The first rule of online dating is to never subscribe to a site that you haven’t researched or heard rave reviews about from people that you already know. After all, not all online dating sites are equal! You’re more than likely to run into romance scams on sites that are on the fringes of the online dating world.
Your best bet is to choose a site that requires you to put down some money. Most scammers bypass the sites that require work, effort and a financial commitment. Also, look for a site that has a lot of tried and true good reviews.
Be aware of red flags
The first step to avoiding dating site scammers is to know that they are a real thing. As wonderful as dating online can be, it can also be a dangerous place for those who go in blindly unaware to warning signs.
Even on the best dating sites, not everything you see will always be real. Knowing this is a great first step to protecting yourself. Be smart about who you trust and who you let into your circle.
Keep some mystery to your profile
It can be fun to share some personal information on online dating profiles. But be careful not to go overboard. It’s okay to mention and talk about your job or profession, but don’t be specific about your place of work.
The same applies for family info. It’s fine to mention that you’re a single mom or a father, but don’t put the names or exact ages of your children out there. Too many details can make it easy for online stalkers and dating site scammers to get a hold of information of their potential victims.
Speaking of your profile, how about your picture?
You love wine and you want the guys who check out your profile to know it. You’re looking for a weekend golf partner and want the women who visit your profile to know about your passion.
Great! Just make sure that profile picture of you holding up the glass of wine at your dinner table or golfing at a local course doesn’t link any dating site scammers to your exact address.
Most reputable online dating sites will remove any GPS data from the pictures you upload. But don’t be afraid to double check. Protect yourself against getting scammed. Remove the metadata before sharing it with the rest of the world.
While removing things from your picture, make sure that you also take out any other faces, for the privacy and safety of any friends or family that may have been in the original shot.
Utilize your dating site’s privacy features
One of the best things you can do right now is make sure that your profile is only view-able by other paying members who are subscribed to the same online dating site as you.
By keeping your information private from random internet strangers, you’re taking a valuable step in protecting yourself from dating site scammers and all kinds of online predators.
Keep the dating to the online site
Be suspicious if someone tries to move communication immediately to email or another way of instant messaging. One of the easiest ways for online dating scammers to get access to your personal information is by hacking into your computer.
While getting to know someone, restrict communication to the online dating site where you know that a lot of measures have been put into place to protect you and your personal info.
Even when communicating within the site, don’t ever open an attachment from someone you don’t know. You could be opening your computer to a virus and giving them access to all kinds of personal information no stranger has any reason to have.
Use search engines to gather info
If you’ve met someone online who seems too good to be true, there is a very high probability that they are.
When you get suspicious about a person, don’t be afraid to put their name into a search engine to see what comes up. There’s a good chance their information should pop up on social media accounts or other websites.
If you can’t find any evidence of the person, or if you copy and paste part of what they’ve written to you. If that exact text shows up on other websites, be weary that something is wrong and stop sending messages to that person.
Don’t get too personal
If you’ve just met someone and they are already asking for very personal information (like your birthday!) be leary of answering them. Even if they ask for it in a kind or flirty way, they are likely trying to get any information that will aid them in their phishing scams.
If you tell them you don’t want to share any info that they ask for and they keep pushing, be sure to report them to the online dating site you’re using.
There are entire departments set up to weed out the dating site scammers from people trying to get to know other real people.
If someone asks for money, sign off
A request for funds or money orders to cover the cost of sudden tragedy is a surefire way to spot dating site scammers. They were abruptly laid off, they’re experiencing an unexpected financial setback, or their mother’s house burned down leaving her with nothing.
Steer clear of common scams, like when the person you’re chatting with starts talking about how you can earn big money by working overseas. It goes without saying that no one should ever ask for or offer tens of thousands of dollars on a dating site. Do these requests sound crazy? You can be that we’ve heard it all!
There are very few lengths predators will go to to get to you and your money. Absolutely refuse to share anything private like your credit card number or debit card information. If those money scammers pressing you about sending money, it’s time to turn them in and block them for good.
Online dating can be complicated enough. No one wants to deal with internet fraud!
While the prospect of coming across a scammer online can be scary, don’t let it discourage you from exploring and getting to know real people who are out there.
By remaining aware and utilizing the tools provided to you, it’s pretty easy to protect yourself while navigating the fascinating world of online dating.
Cassi Villanueva is a freelance writer and contributing blogger at Catholic Singles. Born and raised in the south, when she's not writing, she can be found spending time with her husband and four children in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, GA.