60 percent of U.S. adults like to meet people via online dating according to a pew research study, and Match.com, one of the largest (if not #1) dating sites online, claims its 50+ aged audience has been their fastest growing demographic. With all of the obvious benefits of online dating, many people overlook an often alarming segment of users and websites that they can come into contact with on their journey- the scammers.
Online scammers are in many ways worse than scammers in the real world – it is much easier for them to hide their true identity, and when they finally get your money, they can delete their profiles altogether – never to be seen again.
Several online dating sites have great foundations but are rife with scammers who sign up for accounts, often going so far as to pay membership fees just to gain access to the user pool of the site. From there, they can select victims to begin “romantic relationships” with online from their fake (often extremely attractive) profile pictures.
Online chats with scammers are the #1 way to lose your money in online dating, but you should also keep in mind that there are actual sites that are scams as well. The difference here from the last scenario is that the scammers actually own the entire site, they aren’t just a few bad seeds in an otherwise real network.
Here are some simple tips to help you stay safe when you are online.
1. Use a fake name until you really meet somebody. If you end up with a true connection, they won’t care that you used a generic name online for protection. If you use your real name, scammers can try to find more information about you before approaching you online, and try to use that personal info against you.
2. Absolutely do not send any money to any online romance partners. Common reasons scammers claim that they need money include getting arrested overseas without bail money, borrowing “a small amount” to file claims to a very large inheritance, costs needed to get a webcam in order to show the user more explicit images, and money for travel to come meet the victim.
3. Never ever meet anybody privately until you get to know them. Always meet in a public place to begin your relationship – some users even like to bring friends to initial dates – until you feel comfortable spending time alone.
While we don’t mean to scare you out of the wonderful world of love and romance online, we do hope you learned about how to protect yourself from common romance scams, and will actually utilize this information. While your chances of physical harm are probably very low, the chance of losing money to a scam is surprisingly high.