Online Dating Scam And Cybersecurity: Protecting Yourself From Crooks (infographic)

Trying to find the love of your life is already challenging enough, but these days there are online dating scams to contend with. Online dating scams can damage much more than just your wallet and your credit, but the financial toll alone can be seven times higher than other online scams - as much as $2600 on average, but up into the millions in some rare cases. Online dating experts say that online dating can be done safely and is most of the time, but you have to be on the lookout for common scams.

Online Dating Is More Popular Among Younger Generations

It may not surprise you to learn that younger generations are more likely to use online dating sites and apps. Three quarters of online dating users are under 30 and 90% are under 40, but that could just be because so many people get married and stop dating by the time they reach 40. Fewer than 10% of online daters are over the age of 55. Perhaps the most interesting insight into online dating demographics is that men are far more active than women when online dating.

Online Romance Scams Can Be Costly

While the average romance scam costs $2600, there are often horror stories of the worst case scenario. One Japanese woman sent her online boyfriend, whom she thought was a US. Army Captain stationed in Syria, more than $200,000. Her boyfriend turned out to be 14 online scammers from Los Angeles to Nigeria. Over the course of two years, a woman named Debbie Johnson was scammed out of more than $2 million thanks to an online romance scam. As it turns out, the older you are, the more likely you are to be taken for a lot more money - the average cost of an online romance scam for those over 70 is $10,000 - nearly four times the average.

The scams are always similar. Scammers set up a fake dating profile, make a connection, form a bond and gain trust, and then make up a story and ask for money. Often the story is about paying for medical expenses or personal debts, but sometimes it can even be asking to pay for travel expenses to visit each other in person. One scammer, caught in 2017, had defrauded over 30 victims out of $1.7 million.

Online Safety Is Online Dating Safety

As with all of your online profiles, you shouldn’t have any identifying information about you that is public. It’s easy enough to piece together your life from the bits and pieces out there about you, and the less information you make public, the harder it is for scammers to figure out your weak spots. Set up your accounts and posts with the highest level of security you can and limit the amount of information you put out there about yourself. Don’t tag your home’s location in any posts ever, and make sure your phone number on Facebook is private.

Use only trusted dating sites and get a Google Voice phone number to use for that purpose only. Cross check any photos of your matches using reverse image search to ensure they aren’t just random photos taken from online and insist on performing a background check on anyone you are serious about.

If you do find yourself to be a victim of an online dating scam, stop corresponding with the person immediately and block them. If you have already sent money or gift cards, try to contact the bank or issuer and stop payment. Report the person and profile to the FTC.

Learn more about online dating safety from this infographic from Our Dating Journey.

How to find love without losing everything - infographic
The median cost for online dating scams is 7 times higher than regular online scams, but when done correctly online dating can be perfectly safe. This infographic outlines common scams and how to avoid them when looking for love online
Read next: Don’t be a victim! Here is how to protect yourself from scams on social media

Featured photo: Tero Vesalainen via Getty Images
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