Avoiding Heartless Scams
Financial Safety On Dating Sites
Online dating sites are extremely popular these days, making it easier than ever to find that "special someone". Unfortunately, that same ease of connection makes online dating sites popular hangouts for scammers.
This doesn't mean you should never take advantage of the benefits of these sites. If you do, just practice a few precautions. Watch out for a couple of red flags that could signal a dead-end relationship.
Walk away from wire transfers.
The greatest warning light in the world is a request to send money. There are dozens of reasons why scammers might ask for a wire transfer, account details or other financially sensitive information. Maybe they claim to have a sick relative who is desperate for medical attention, or they want to come and see you, but can’t afford a ticket.
Whatever the story, it will have three key elements:
- First, it will be surrounded in terms of love or relationship advancement. Your new love interest may make a sudden confession of love first, or pressure you by saying you need to prove your love.
- Second, there will be a specific reason why the money must be transferred using an unsecure method, like Western Union. The scammer may not have a checking account, or may not have time to wait for a check to clear.
- Third, there will be a significant urgency. You will have to decide right away whether or not to help, and not helping will be the end of your budding romance.
Whenever someone you don’t know offline asks for money via wire transfer, run away. No one with good intentions will want the anonymity and immediacy of a money transfer.
Don’t get strung along.
Many sites offer a free trial before requiring members to pay for a costly subscription. Unscrupulous companies, however, could have employees pose as potential matches and send messages to customers who are nearing the end of that free trial period. These messages will hint at possible romance, but move just slowly enough that the customer must pay the subscription fee to continue receiving them. Once the money’s been paid, the messages stop. Other companies create fake profiles to artificially inflate the number of "available" matches near you.
The best advice for dealing with situations like this is to be proactive. Keep dialogues going with people you may be interested in talking to and find another way to communicate with them. Consider creating a dating site-only email address that contains very little information about you (other than your first name) and providing that to potential matches if your subscription is about to expire.
Dating sites are like any other place on the Internet. They can do a great deal of good, but you’ll just want to be careful how you use them.