How do couples meet and fall in love in the 21st century?

In today's day and age, love isn't always something you find unexpectedly during a random encounter. Dating is no longer limited to the people you meet in person.

Nowadays, online dating is the most common method of meeting a partner; more than 57 million people use dating apps in the U.S., and it’s never been easier to connect with others online.

Unfortunately, some people use these apps for more than just digital sparks. Some cyber criminals take advantage of these apps to carry out romance scams.

According to the FBI, online scams increased by 87% from 2015 to 2022. Those affected lost $547 million in 2021 as a result of being swindled by their cyber-sweetheart. Alarmingly, research reveals that romance scammers are adept at deceitful tactics. They craft fake online personas with alluring pictures copied from the internet. Sometimes they even assume the identities of people they know.

We want you to be aware of these types of scams. Scammers take advantage of people’s emotions and can cause serious financial and psychological damage.

It's important that young people and those new to online dating be aware of these types of scams, so their emotions don’t lead them to ignore red flags.

To help you and others avoid identity theft, financial fraud, and heartbreak, here are some pointers to ensure your love at first swipe or click is legit.


What Are Romance Scams?

According to the FBI, a romance scam occurs when a criminal creates a fake profile and feigns romantic interest in another online user – either through a dating app or website, an online chat room or a social media platform – to create a feeling of intimate trust with the intention of scamming the victim out of money.


Things to consider before jumping to an online dating site

1. Dating apps are the new storehouses for personal data.

Don’t share your full name, location, or phone number. Try to stay as anonymous as possible. Unless you actively maintain your online security, you're easier to find than you think. All it takes is a unique first name, a small university graduating class, a sports team jersey, or a friend in common to pull up your Facebook profile. Be careful what you put out there.

2. Don’t sign up with your Facebook account, but if you do...

Tinder and Bumble are incredibly popular swiping-based dating apps. These apps typically pull your name, age, and employment from your Facebook profile, and then link all your interests (all the pages you've ever liked on Facebook over the past 10 years), your photos, and your mutual friends.

If you decide to sign up with your Facebook account:

  • Remove Your Workplace/School
  • Change Your Primary Photo
  • Don't Link to Instagram
  • Reconsider Your Social Media Handles


I signed up, what’s next? Stay Safe Online

Online dating can be a dangerous playground for scams; follow these practices to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals:

  1. Avoid visiting links, don't send anyone money, and have your wits about you.
  2. Avoid photo scams. Cyber criminals will convince their target to send their personal information in exchange for intimate photos.
  3. Ask questions. You want to ensure the person on the other end is legitimate.
  4. Do your own snooping, such as a reverse image search.

In the age of social media and online dating, everyone has a digital presence waiting to be viewed. Do your homework on your cyber sweetheart by viewing their social media profiles. If their profile is bare or they have no connections, take it a step further with a reverse image search to see if their photos are on other sites.

To do this:

  1. Right-click an image of the person.
  2. Click “Copy.”
  3. Visit and paste the image.

Google will show you the websites where the image appears online. If it shows up on a stock photo site or seems to belong to someone else entirely, it may be part of a scam.

  1. If your potential match seems too defensive or angry over common questions, they are likely catfishing.
  2. Feeling uncomfortable at any point? Perhaps they are asking way too many personal questions. Block them.
  3. Should you feel that someone is faking their identity or scamming you, contact the dating site's customer support and report them.

Keep in mind dating apps are available for anyone to download. Hackers want to move to a more personal communication platform to easily secure massive troves of data. So always think before you click, and don’t let emotions blind your data privacy concerns. 

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