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Delusions! A Walkthrough on Preventing Identity Theft through Online Dating Platforms
June 14, 2021

Delusions! A Walkthrough on Preventing Identity Theft through Online Dating Platforms

Online dating platforms have become one of the best avenues to connect with people across the globe. Some meet new friends, and in some instances, they find their true love while doing so. Unfortunately, not all people who join online dating are lucky in terms of meeting decent people. Most of them tend to fall into the traps of scammers and frauds lurking within a particular dating site. In truth, there are tons of reported issues about online dating that lead to identity theft in the past few years.

As a matter of fact, recent online dating identity theft statistics suggested that in 2016, approximately 15,000 individuals were victimized by scammers. These scammers were able to steal a total of $230 million. The numbers alone prove that identity theft in online dating is not a joke.

Are you new to the concept of identity theft? This article will provide a quick yet informative walkthrough on what identity theft through online dating really is, along with smart ways to protect yourself against these notorious individuals lurking online. 

What is Identity Theft?

Simply put, identity theft is the fraudulent act of stealing or using someone else’s identity to steal or extort money and use it for other con-related practices.

As technology advances, cyber thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated with their forte. They come up with newer ways on how to con people online which can be very alarming.

Knowing what identity theft is, is not enough. It also pays to have prior knowledge of the methods that online frauds use to execute such digital transgressions. Below is a breakdown of ways on how an unsuspecting personnel with an online dating account may be predisposed to the risks of having their personal information stolen: 

1. Hacking

One of the most popular ways of identity theft is executed by breaching through the security systems or firewall of a dating site user’s account or computer. The practice involves exploiting security barriers to gain access to sensitive information such as bank accounts and government accounts. Once the hacker breaches the said account, they can drain it in a matter of minutes.

2. Phishing

It is a scheme that involves tricking an unsuspecting victim to voluntarily hand over their personal information. The scammer sends an anonymous email or phone call to an individual who is unaware that the former is posing as an authentic establishment or brand. They use their false authenticity to lure their victims into handing in their sensitive data.

3. Malware

Specifically structured to deceive unknowing users, Malware is concealed as a seemingly legitimate software that victims are made to install into their computers. Once the malware is able to enter their unit or system, it allows scammers to access computer files as well as gain real-time tracking of their activities. There is another type of malware called Ransomware. It encrypts a victim’s files. After which, the hacker demands a ransom from their victim in exchange for regaining access to their files or data.

4. Con Persona

A well-known strategy for identity theft today is Con Persona. It is most prominent on social networking sites and online dating sites. Here’s how it works:

An online swindler creates a fake profile (or persona) using someone else’s face and identity to fool other users by befriending them or flirting with them. Aside from merely conversing with the undoubting victim, they can go as far as send erotic and outright explicit images of who they claim to be. The scammer then waits for the user to catch the bait and once the false relationship intensifies, fraudsters will begin to ask their prey to send money. They typically use excuses and made-up stories involving a sick relative or unpaid salaries. In some instances, they monetize their fake profiles by asking for payments in exchange for more steamy images. 

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How to Prevent Identity Fraud in Online Dating?

You must be wondering what a scammer can do with your stolen personal information.

To put it bluntly, a scammer can do a lot with your personal information.

Aside from draining your bank accounts dry, they can also use your personal data to open new bank accounts and take out loans under your name, purchase expensive items online, gain access to your government records, use your social media account to scam your family and friends, track your daily activities, and lastly, gain full access of your email accounts to find more confidential information.

All of these scary possibilities highlight why not falling into the traps of these sneaky cyberthieves is paramount. Knowing the best courses of action to avoid their evil plots will greatly increase your invulnerability against them.

We’ve narrowed down the best practices you can adopt to prevent getting victimized by online dating identity theft scams. 

1. Don’t Give It All

To avoid falling into dating app identity theft and other related fraudulent activities online, you must have self-control. Withhold identifiable personal information such as your address, contact number, and even descriptions about your workplace or career. Remember, joining online dating does not require you to provide all there is to know about you, even the details that could potentially leave you exposed. Tease them if you must. Provide only your first name and an initial of your last name. If the online dating platform allows you to display your hobbies on your profile, do it. This way, you have all the more reason to conceal your personal data and halt it from falling into the wrong hands. At the same time, sharing your interests make your profile more interesting to genuine users who want to talk or match with you.

2. Do Some Self-Digging

When someone matches with you, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little digging about this stranger. Check their background by searching them on other social networking sites to verify that they are real people. But don’t stop there! Some scammers are smart enough to make a backup social media profile to make sure that their fraudulent act looks authentic and fool-proof.

What you can do is to check their friends or follower count. If you see that they only have a few friends, you can mark them as red flags. Be warned, though, for some people tend to not be socially inclined. Basing their authenticity on the number of friends they have on their social profiles alone can be tricky. As a follow-up, you can check their recent or frequent activities on their accounts. Are they active on social media? When was the last time they shared something on their profile or posted a new status or tweet? You can also check the date when they joined the said platform. The goal is to determine whether the account is recently created or not. Often, new accounts are more likely to be fake. If you’re still in doubt, you can use Google’s search by image feature or request a video call as your last line of defense. These tactics allow you to check whether they are using someone else’s face or not. 

3. Start Moderating Content

For online dating platform owners, one of the best ways to get rid of these pesky scammers is to employ a trusty moderation system in place. Moderation allows you to monitor and track all the things that are happening on your online dating site. Efficient moderation enables your subscribers to report and flag users who are showing practices that are deemed illegal. Not only does it boost your credibility, it likewise helps you reduce the exposure of your bonafide members to fraudulent activities. 

4. Don’t Be a Samaritan

Remember, you are using online platforms to find your true love, and not to establish a charity initiative. Although helping is not bad, you must know the consequences of sending money to a complete stranger. Often, people who ask for money through online dating platforms and other social networking sites are scammers trying to take advantage of your generosity.

It is best to hold on to your bank accounts. Never send money, and AVOID disclosing your credit card and bank info. The golden rule of online dating is to never send your personal account details and other sensitive information to someone you don’t know. Exchanging highly confidential details with each other can wait until you really get to see them face-to-face and confirm that their feelings and intentions are true. In the meantime, don’t be a Samaritan! 

5. Surpass Their Wit and Trickery

Scammers are masters of deception and embezzlement. They will do anything to gain access to your personal accounts and information. The ideal response to their cunning ways is to make things harder for them.

Create a password that is difficult to decrypt. Avoid using your name, birthday, address, phone number, and other details that are easy to guess or associate with who you are. Try combining letters, numbers, and symbols to create a unique password. Make sure that you have a copy of your password to avoid being locked out.

See to it that your antivirus and antimalware software is on its latest patch and your firewall is fully functional. By doing so, you can guarantee that your networks and other devices are fully secured. 

6. Ask for a More Personal Opinion

This is rather simple. Ask your family, friends, or someone you can trust for a second opinion. There are instances wherein your perspective is different from theirs, or that the people you trust have sharper instincts and keener attention to detail. Show them the profile and request their most unfiltered opinion. If they care enough, they will be upfront with you and let you know right away whether they feel or think that something doesn’t add up with your online beau. 

7. Trust Yourself

Protection starts from within. Trusting your guts is the first line of defense to prevent scammers from taking advantage of you. If someone is too good to be true or if they show activities that are instantly deemed fishy and sketchy, that’s your go signal to find someone else. The online dating sphere is brimming with genuine users, you just need to be patient enough to find the one for you. 

Enough with the Delusions!

Online dating sites are indeed a perfect place to find the one with whom you can spend the rest of your life. Sadly, people with a hostile agenda have changed how people perceive online dating. The only way to prevent these cybercriminals from destroying such a perfect place to mingle and meet new friends is to have a thorough background of how these scammers maneuver their victims.

Take time to research about their specific methods of taking advantage of innocent dating site members. Then, try to come up with effective preventive measures and combine them with the tips listed in this article.

If you are running an online dating site, moderation is the key to maintain a harmonious and safe atmosphere for your digital daters. Moderation is often overlooked by most companies, but what they don’t realize is moderation can do wonders in boosting their online reputation and creating a stronger barrier against fake users.

Don’t know where to start? Chekkee might be able to help you!

We offer human-powered moderation services perfect for all types of online platforms. We cover different industries such as social media sites, online communities, e-commerce websites, online gaming, and of course—online dating sites. We are composed of dedicated Chekkee moderators who can easily adapt based on your moderation-related concerns. Our expertise guarantees that your online dating platform is 100% protected against false personas and other forms of cyber fraud.

Talk to us today to know more about our dating site moderation services! 

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