Valentine’s Day is this week, but it’s also Safer Internet Day, and what better way to celebrate both by being aware of romantic cons.
It’s easy to feel as though the internet is safe, but let your guard down and scammers will push right in. Cyber criminals are out for your money, and they’ll take as much as they can, particularly if you’re a little vulnerable or looking for love online.
In fact, scammers will use any method at their disposal to relieve you of money, and for many, tricking people into online love is one of the more successful approaches. As far as romance is concerned, it’s not unusual to fall for the lure and online guise, making it paramount that everyone stays aware online.
Scammers can trick you on on Facebook and they can trick you via online dating networks, but the tricks of scammers can also be prevented provided you keep your wits about you.
“Scammers today prey on the human need to feel connected to one and other,” said Alex Merton-McCann, Cybermum for McAfee in Australia.
“The key is to be always careful with the information that you share online,” she told Pickr, noting that “whether it’s Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, or even Facebook or Instagram, only share what is absolutely necessary.”
The unfortunate reality with online relationships is that you might not know who you’re talking to, and the various things you mention as part of the dating process can be worked out to figure your identity. It may not take long to get a skip or a jump away to your bank information, particularly since how passwords typically centre around personal information.
It’s important to be aware of just what is being said, and what potential mates — and potential scammers — are saying online. While it’s possible love is just around the corner, McCann suggests that it’s important to identify any red flags early on. If something smells fishy, question it, and don’t let yourself fall for a scam.
“Know when to call it,” she said. “Be it a romantic relationship you’ve engaged with for months, or a one-off phishing email, no matter the sob story, do NOT send money to anyone online. Secondly, if someone promises to meet you somewhere but keeps cancelling or if he or she refuses to video chat, those are red flags.”
If it seems like you should just give up on love online, that’s not the case. Rather, like with much of the security dilemma online, and how you need to stay abreast of what scammers are doing, it’s best to be smart with your decisions.
“Romance scammers are very clever at manipulating unsuspecting people online so please keep your wits about you,” said McCann, and advised not to give up on online dating overall, but instead to be a little smarter with your online profile.
“Start with being clever with your profile names on dating sites and apps,” she said, adding that you should “never give out your full name”.
Passwords should also be a priority, and to make sure they’re not only different across platforms, but also different to that personal information you might be mentioning. It doesn’t take much for a motivated scammer to put two and two together, and if your passwords are easy to guess, staying safer online is that much more difficult.