Dating platforms have helped people build serious and satisfying relationships, but you should never overshare on them or open up prematurely. Not everyone you will meet on a dating platform will have the best of intentions. Fake profiles abound, with fabricated names and details and fake pictures.
Up to a third of people who use dating platforms have crossed paths with a catfish. About 20% of these people sent the criminal money.
Few platforms have adequate security features to weed out ill-meant users. You can report them to the dating site, but there’s no guarantee they’ll do anything. By that time, you may have already been scammed.
Here’s how to stay safe when dating online in 2022 and beyond.
Do a Background Check
It is probably the easiest way to know if someone’s being honest with you. Employers perform background checks on job candidates to verify their identity. Identity checks are the most basic and most effective type. It’s essential to hire a legitimate provider if you want accurate results. The process should include a search for criminal records in your county or state.
Check Their Picture on Google
If they used a fake picture, a reverse image search on Google might reveal it. Your search will direct you to the photo’s original location. Then, it will be easy to know they used a stock image or someone else’s picture.
A stealthy scammer won’t use a fake picture because they know all about reverse image searches. They use images that have never been published online, like pictures of friends or relatives you can’t find on the internet.
If someone asks for money on a dating site, stop communicating with them at once. If you catch misleading or false information, be extra careful. Ask for a video call or at least a phone call once you’ve spent time chatting with the person.
If someone puts off meeting you in person, don’t keep your hopes up. People often do this on purpose. Watch for superficial excuses – their camera suddenly stopped working a few minutes before you were to video call them?
While these are common red flags, catching just one is typically no cause for concern. However, don’t ignore a series of red flags.
What not to Do
Don’t answer any questions that feel invasive or uncomfortable. Don’t meet anyone in an isolated place, particularly if you’ve never met in person.
Don’t ignore your intuition. Don’t meet the person in real life if it feels wrong somehow. People who are desperate to find love can overlook obvious warning signs.
Another risk on dating sites is fake news and free giveaway scams. The person might send you a link, which will deliver malware when you click on it. These stories, news, or offers are meant to attract attention like email scams were in the past.
Surveys are just as risky. Don’t agree to participate in any survey, even if it seems legitimate or they promise a chance to win a big prize. Con artists create surveys to get people’s personal details and use them to perpetrate identity theft, phishing, or hijack social media accounts.
How to Protect Yourself: the Bottom Line
You can take a few key measures to protect yourself from scams on dating sites. Don’t automatically assume your account is safe and your details are hidden. If you leave a photo or check-in open, you risk falling prey to a scam. Use only the features you need and ask the site’s support for help when in doubt.
You might run into issues later if you don’t take the time to check the individual you are meeting. Criminals use different phone numbers apart from fake pics to create multiple profiles on online dating sites and trick innocent people into a web of deceit.
Use a reliable background check service: it can help reveal false information and fraudulent activity.