Valentine’s Day is Friday. Of the 54 million single people in the U.S. looking for love, many of them turn to online dating for help. But, if you’re not careful, scammers will take advantage of lonely and vulnerable people. Your Better Business Bureau offers tips to keep you safe online.
According to Statistic Brain, an online dating site, annual revenue from online dating sites exceeded $1.2 billion last year. In addition, more than 41 million people have tried online dating sites.
Due to the popularity of online dating sites, scammers are targeting singles of all ages and locations by creating fake profiles. These profiles are designed to gain victims’ trust, with the ultimate intention of stealing identities or even emptying bank accounts. Unfortunately, dating schemes trick thousands of people annually, taking millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims.
If you decide to look for love online, your Better Business Bureau recommends following these tips:
• Find a dating site that’s right for you. For example, a religious online dating site might be for you.
• Beware of someone avoiding face-to-face contact. It could mean 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.
• Get everything in writing, including all fees. Some may charge a flat rate or monthly charge. Make sure you read everything carefully.
• Save all chat logs or e-mails for reference in the future.
• Claims to be from the U.S., but are currently overseas.
• 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.
• Trust your gut instinct.
Remember, protect your heart and 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 location you pick. Be sure to report questionable activities to authorities. It can help protect others from schemes.
If you have any questions regarding online dating, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.