Using a dating app is now so common that you probably know a couple who met online.
He’s lost the stigma that came with it before – but it’s now so accepted that people might not think about the risks of meeting a stranger and potentially being alone with him.
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The risks have been highlighted recently with a number of gruesome murders where the killers lured their victims to hook-up apps. Violence is not the only risk people face – fraudsters are also looking for victims online.
Of course, we’re not saying people should stop using dating sites, which can be a great way to connect with people. But there are simple ways people can protect themselves.
Online Dating: Staying Safe
- Always meet your date in a public place
- Tell a trusted friend or family member where you are going and who you are meeting
- Make your own way to the date and go home
- Prepare an excuse in case the date isn’t quite as planned
- Don’t let your guard down after the first date – always keep your family and friends informed about your plans
- Be careful what you put on Facebook, especially if you allow people you don’t know in real life to add you as friends. This is especially important if you are using Tinder as it pulls your information so that other members can see it, like your work. Depending on who you work for, a quick Google search may be enough to find your business address and locate you.
- Don’t Trade Intimate Pictures – Unsavory characters might use them against you, in the worst case blackmailing you to keep them private, or sending them to people you know.
- Use the dating website / app to talk – beware if they want to text or whatsapp you right away – they might collect so many contact details to use to harass and blackmail you.
- Never post full name, date of birth or address – they could be used to steal your identity.
- Never give out your bank details – Never share your financial details or respond to any requests for money.
What are some common tips from crooks?
Kis Finance put together a list of red flags to spot if someone might not be who they say they are.
Stuck abroad – As the crooks may not be what they claim to be, they are obviously unable to plan to meet you anytime soon. They can cook up a story like being in the forces or temporarily working overseas.
Often times, they will pretend to be younger than you, possibly a single parent (especially if they think you want kids or family life.
Beware of requests for money for their children! They can ask for things that are difficult to refuse, such as medical help or money for a child’s Christmas presents.
Unable to meet (or chat on the phone) – Anyone who is genuine on a dating site will want to meet if you get along well for a while. If you can’t meet them for some reason, there’s probably something wrong. Be especially careful if you can’t talk to them on the phone after exchanging messages for a while – they may not have the technology to distort their voice.
Inconsistencies – If what they are telling you about themselves is inconsistent, that should arouse suspicion. Keep in mind that you might be talking to a team of scammers, so they can get it wrong every now and then. Watch out for this.
Repetition – If the person you are talking to is repeating themselves, they may not want to put all the eggs in one basket and still chat with other potential dates and not try to rip you off – or they may rip off several of you at the same time and their memory is not good enough!
Want to chat by SMS / Whatsapp – If they seem to want to chat in a way other than through the dating site right away. It could be innocent and they just prefer to chat with you in some other way or maybe they want to get as much contact info so you can use it against you.
Send you emails with attachments – They could try to transmit a virus to your computer. Never open email attachments from people you don’t know.
They ask you a lot of questions – They want specific information, such as your full name, and are not quick to reveal much about themselves.
Their photo is too perfect – Many scam victims describe the person they thought they were dating as “like a movie star” and, in hindsight, admit that she looked too perfect.
How prevalent are the dangers?
In the first six months of 2016, Met Police received 187 reports of crimes related to Tinder and the gay dating app Grindr.
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And with nearly 7.8 million dating profiles in use, scammers and con artists have found a whole new demographic to fool with their hard-earned money.
If you detect a fake profile or suspect that someone might be a fraudster, always immediately report their profile to the dating site and stop all contact.
You can also report the incident to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
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