Ready to try your luck in online dating? It turns out the fear of rejection is the least of your worries. Whirlwind romances might sound intriguing, but they pose a threat to your privacy and sensitive information such as credit cards when it comes to online dating.
In fact, cyber-crime has become so widespread in the online dating world that one in ten dating profiles are scams, according to estimates by the ICCC (Internet Crime Complaint Center). Such scams can cost victims more than $50 million a year.
Online dating scams are similar to usual phishing scams. Just as criminals spam millions of users into trying to gain access to their personal information, potential scammers on dating websites cast a wide net in hope of getting responses. IBISWorld says online dating grew to a $2 billion dollar industry in the US, which makes the industry an attractive target for cyber-criminals.
These scammers target you based on personal information you uploaded on the dating site or social networks. They craft profiles carefully to match your interests, and then pursue you to engage in a relationship. Alisdair Faulkner, Chief Products Officer at ThreatMatrix, says:
“Recognizing the huge profits in online dating, cybercriminals have found several sophisticated ways to target innocent users. To prevent attacks, consumers must be vigilant of the information they share with online suitors, and commercial dating sites should make cybersecurity a top priority by implementing an integrated device identification and malware prevention solution.”
Faulkner and other security experts recommend noting these red flags on online dating sites:
Limited information: Any profile without a photo, an email address, or a phone number, could be a fake one. Such profiles may list certain conditions in return for a photo or phone number, but the aim of the person behind the profile is just to convince you to send your sensitive details.
Include financial discussion: Mention of money in any capacity is a red flag; be careful of scammers who demand financial help in order to go on a date. Any potential date asking for money should be reported to the online dating community.
Wants to act quickly: If someone sweeps you off your feet and falls in love with you after only a few conversations, it sounds too good to be true. Also be careful of those who want to take the conversation to an instant messaging service outside the dating community quickly.
You can take several steps to safeguard your online dating while pursuing your love online, including the following:
Protect sensitive information: Scammers attempt to gain access to personal credentials such as your email, phone number and address. Remember that these details can make it easy for criminals to guess your passwords. Create a dedicated email account for the dating site, and avoid posting any details related to your financial credentials.
Use reputable dating sites: Thoroughly check websites before creating an account. Read reviews and talk to friends about it. Use glassdoor.com to find out if it’s a big site with a company office and read reviews on Yelp. Reputable sites will also offer security tips to help protect your information.
Follow common sense practices: For example, be careful of those who send you links; click them and you could be welcoming malware to record your information. Never click on links in messages, and keep your computer security software updated.