I’ve had an online dating profile off and on for several years now. While I’ve heard of things like catfishing and other dating scams, I never had personally experienced it until last fall.
Thankfully, nothing bad happened to me. I reported this individual to the platform I was using. But at the same time, it felt a little bit frustrating and disheartening. For a brief moment, it made me want to give up on online dating because of one bad experience.
Have you ever had that experience with online dating before?
Online dating scams are quickly becoming growing crimes. According to the Better Business Bureau, reported romance scams were up nearly 20% in 2020. The Federal Trade Commission revealed that romance scams are the #1 way that people between the ages of forty and seventy-nine lose money from online scams these days.
So what is a single Catholic man or woman to do?
How do we keep ourselves safe and still enjoy our online dating experience? Here are some best practices in helping you spot scammers. Let’s start with some red flags that could tip you off to a scam.
Watch out for online dating profile warning signs
They may not have a lot of pictures or the photos they do have seem to be all glamor stock photos. You also may notice they have very limited information about themselves on their profile. Another thing to notice is despite looking for singles in your area, they work or live in another country or far away from where you live.
They want to take the conversation elsewhere immediately
Online scammers, especially those who will catfish victims, will quickly ask you to move to another form of messaging outside the platform like WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram.
Be wary of someone who wants to move the conversation to a different platform.
There’s a lot of last minute cancellations
A common line with dating scammers is that they want to meet you, but when the time comes, something always comes up. Since a scammer is not at all who they claim to be, they obviously do not really want to meet you. Instead, they want to take advantage of you.
They ask you for money
This one is a classic scammer move! Anytime someone you don’t know asks you for money over the internet, never ever do that. Report and block. This is the quickest and easiest way people get hacked, scammed, and unfortunately lose money.
They avoid video chats
Scammers might also continually avoid phone calls or video chats. Be wary if your match is never willing to appear in video chat or always makes excuses about their camera being broken. It is a definite red flag if someone professes their love to you, yet won’t let you talk to them over video after weeks of communication.
So what are ways that Catholic singles can keep themselves safe from scammers? Here are some helpful tips to consider:
Verify someone’s identity
If you are suspicious or something doesn’t feel right, verify the person’s identity if possible. Use reverse image searches and tools like Social Catfish to verify a person’s online identity. You could also check that the same image isn’t appearing across a variety of profiles under different names.
Trust your gut
Trust yourself! You are a smart, wise, and prudent. If something in your gut feels off, pay attention. You don’t have to continue communicating with someone if something feels fishy (pun intended!).
Don’t reveal too much
Don’t overshare or reveal too much of your personal information to someone you have never met before. Keep things light and bright. If it feels like another person is intensely digging, take note.
Be smart and have fun
Many of the safety techniques when it comes to online dating are about common sense and trusting your gut. Be smart, safe, and discerning. But also have fun! Dating can and should be a fun, enjoyable experience.
Don’t feel overly anxious or nervous about bumping into your own dating scammer.
If you have experienced a scammer before, know that your experience can help someone else know what to avoid or how to handle it. What are some tried and true ways to spot scammers and how can Catholic singles stay safe while still enjoying their online dating experience? Tell us about it in the comments below!