In recent years, the stigma surrounding online dating has faded. Today’s seekers of romance download dating apps or sign up to websites by the millions (91 million worldwide to be exact). What was once a practice that many found too embarrassing to speak about openly, is now a common and freely discussed solution for finding relationships. It is also hard to ignore the convenience factor that comes with online dating. However, where there is a convenience, there are those looking to extort it for their own personal gain.

If you are looking to find love, or perhaps a casual fling, technology is moving in the right direction. But what does it mean for the Digital You?

You may have heard the stories- an authentic looking account turns out to be scam created by criminals whose purpose is to defraud men or women searching for a relationship. It is a sad narrative – one that traps far too many people these days.  In fact, victims lost over £50 million to these scammers in 2018 alone, with the average loss per victim being £11,000.

With this in mind, it is important to stay vigilant in protecting the Digital You, even when online dating. You can start by following the guide below.

How to Protect the Digital You When Dating Online

While other methods of fraud may be completely out of your hands, fraud facilitated in online dating means you would be interacting with the fraudster directly.  This means that the precautions you take are crucial in identifying any malicious behaviour and avoiding fraud, before it happens to you. By following these tips, you could avoid financial turmoil and more importantly… a broken heart.

Vet Their Profile

If you happen to come across someone you would like to interact with, start by doing a dive into their profile. Fortunately, a profile requires that users put in their name, photos and other information about themselves. You can analyze this information by searching for the person online and placing the keyword “scam” or “dating fraud” next to them to see if anything surfaces.

Don’t Start Falling… Yet

Assuming you have performed the step above, and didn’t note anything alarming in the results, you are safe to go ahead and begin chatting.

If the conversation kicks off, make you sure to ask plenty of questions. Try and get to know the person you are speaking to and not let their profile distract you. If you are paying attention, then any red flags should be pretty obvious.

Get a Second Pair of Eyes

Chances are, you have a friend or family member with whom you feel close enough to share your personal life. Make sure you are talking to them about your romantic interests. They could potentially notice any sinister signs that you may have missed due to your infatuation.

Also, be wary of any romantic interests that recommend you don’t tell anyone about them. There is more than likely a reason they want to remain under the radar…

Do Not Share Money

No matter how charming, sweet, pretty, or handsome someone may seem, NEVER share money with them; in fact, someone who is asking is a major red flag.

This may seem obvious, but many people who fall for these traps ultimately felt the same way. Fraudsters will make sure to earn your trust before asking for a loan. It is important to remember that requests like these are almost always fueled by bad intentions.

Meet in Public

This is a step that will eventually occur in most continuing relationships that begin online. It also happens to be the best way to confirm that the person you are speaking to is who they say they are. To be clear, only continue with this step after performing the ones above. You should already have a good idea who the person you are meeting is and whether you should trust them.

Make sure that you meet in a public location with lots of people around. Additionally, you should let friends and family know when and where you will be meeting the person.

What If You Are A Victim?

Many people who fall prey to online scams fail to report it out of embarrassment.  If you are a victim or ever become a victim, know that the only chance you have of recovering your lost assets is to report the fraud. Take solace in knowing that you are probably also saving others from being victimized as well.

In the event you are a victim, you should immediately report it to Action Fraud. You can also call them on 0300 123 2040.

Make sure you are following our other tips for staying safe while online.

Protect the Digital You at ScoresMatter.