Six Steps to Avoid Online Dating Scams This Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2017

12:45 pm

It’s February, which means many of us are working a little harder on our love lives to secure a date for Valentine’s Day. Although it would be nice to meet someone organically at the gym or perhaps at your favorite coffee shop, those of us with busy schedules know that’s not a likely scenario. That’s why online dating is an amazing resource for modern singles.

With a simple swipe right, you can virtually “meet” someone who you might just enjoying spending the day with on February fourteenth. The only probably is that with increased convenience often comes increased potential for problems.

From catfishing to money transfer scams and blackmailing, the online dating world is full of scammers looking to pull one over on unsuspecting daters these days. Fortunately, a little research can help you avoid these scams in your online search for love.

If you feel a bit odd Facebook stalking a potential date beforehand, don’t! Not only is it smart to check out your match’s online presence before you plan a date, but it’s also not uncommon. Reports show that 30 percent of online daters research a potential date before they agree to meet with them.

Here are six steps you should take to avoid online dating scams in your search for the perfect Valentine’s Day date.

1. Check Sites Dedicated to Catching Scammers

One of the first steps to catching a potential online dating scammer is to run his or her username through a site that is dedicated to catching and listing scammers in this particular niche. One of the most established of these sites is Romance Scams. This site was specifically designed to catch scammers within the online dating sphere.

You can also check out scam report sites like StopScammers.com and Rip and Scam if your search on Romance Scams comes up dry.

2. Trace Sources for Images and Contact Info

Just because the individual you’re speaking with online isn’t listed on a scam reporting site doesn’t mean he or she is totally in the clear. The next step to vet your potential match is to trace their images and contact info back to the source.

You can start by running a quick reverse image search to find out where else their profile image shows up online. If it shows up under multiple accounts with different names, you’re probably dealing with a scammer. The next step will be to run reverse searches on their phone number and email address. Although this might seem a bit extreme, the process is free and definitely worth saving yourself the potential headache of dealing with someone who is not who they say they are.

3. Keep Your Search Close to Home

Experts say that online daters are more likely to be scammed by other site users who are in another state or country than they are likely to be scammed by users who live within a reasonable distance from their home. Long story short, keep your search close to home. This might narrow down your possibilities a bit, but it will significantly reduce your chances of being scammed and make things a whole lot easier when it comes time to meet in person.

4. Pay Attention to Spelling and Grammar

Another pro tip from professionals who study online dating scams is to look for obvious spelling and grammatical errors in the messages you get from your online love interest. If you notice that their messages are typically riddled with obvious mistakes, this could be a sign that the person you are speaking with is a scammer.

Of course, the individual you are interested in could be legitimate and simply lack solid communication skills, but frequent spelling and grammatical errors are common signs that you’re being targeted by a scammer.

5. Notice Odd Patterns in Conversation

If the grammar and spelling checks out, pay closer attention to what the person is asking you in conversation. Does he or she seem to be concerned with what you do for a living, where you live, and how much you make? Does the person seem to be moving really fast with proclaiming their love for you and planning a “future” together?

Scammers will find out as much as they can about your personal life and living situation to find weak spots they can exploit. Notice if the individual you’re speaking with seems to be moving your relationship a bit fast. Scammers will try to move your relationship as quickly as possible to earn your trust before they ask for money. This guide on The Huffington Post provides a more detailed description of clues to look for in your conversation.

6. Report Rather Than Engage

Finally, one of the most important steps you should take if you find that the individual you are speaking with is in fact a scammer is to report their account rather than confront the issue. By letting the person know that you’ve caught them, you give them the chance to delete the account and start fresh with a new profile before they are confronted by the proper authorities.

Start by reaching out to the admin of the dating site or app you’re using. Send along any information you think might be pertinent to their investigation like the username, contact info, and the red flags you saw that tipped you off to their illegitimacy. Once you’ve reported the user through the dating site, post their username on the scam finder sites listed above to help others identify this scam before it’s too late.

It might seem like February fourteenth is the deadline for you to find love. The good news is, that’s totally not true. The even better news is, online dating is still a great way to find a solid match if you’re too busy to go out on the town — so long as you take the necessary measures to protect yourself. Hopefully these six tips will help you avoid scammers in your online search for your next love interest.

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Cosette is a freelance writer and digital lifestyle expert with the goal of helping readers simplify life and work using affordable tech tools and apps. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, biking, snowboarding, and traveling.

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