In recent years, the term catfishing has been used to describe an online dating scam. Scammers will use this to take advantage of lonely and vulnerable people this Valentine’s Day.
There are more than 315 million people in the U.S., and about 61 percent of them are single, according to the U.S. Department of Census. About 40 million people have tried some form of online dating, according to statisticbrain.com.
Catfishing occurs when someone assumes a persona on a social networking site. They create false identities by using pictures, interests and even someone else’s friends to fool others. Most often the catfishers hope to start a relationship and trick you into giving out personal or financial information or give them money.
If you decide to look for love online, then your Better Business Bureau recommends these tips:
• Beware of someone avoiding face-to-face contact. Many times if this happens the person on the other end isn’t who he or she says he or she is.
• Watch out for someone quick to develop the relationship and claims instant feelings of love.
• Consider it a red flag if someone claims to be from the U.S., but is currently overseas.
• Avoid someone claiming a sudden emergency, requiring a large amount of money.
• Be wary of someone asking for financial assistance to pay for travel, visas, medication, a child or relative’s hospital bills or a financial setback.
• Never send money to someone you’ve never met no matter how serious or desperate the situation sounds.
• Be on guard if the person wants to leave the online dating site immediately and switch to personal e-mail or instant messaging accounts.
Remember, protect your heart and your safety. Don’t reveal personal information in your online dating profile, including your full name, phone number, workplace or specifics about where you live. When it’s time to meet for the first time in person, be mindful of the place you pick to meet.
Before signing up for an online dating site, check it out with your BBB by going online to www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.