However, the concerning factor for seniors using online dating sites is security. More than half of the online dating site users lie about something on their profile. Thus, seniors looking for companions online are at risk of being duped through online dating scams, exposing themselves to financial loss and emotional turmoil.
In 2019, more than 20,000 complaints were registered against romance scams, accounting for a cumulative loss of more than $475 million. Meeting new people online involves risks. Nevertheless, you can protect yourself or someone you love from these online frauds.
In this post, we have a few tips that can help you find a new partner while staying safe from scams.
1. Analyze the Profile Picture
Profile pictures provide the first impressions to gauge a person’s look and personality. Scammers and catfishers — evil people trying to lure you into a relationship with a false online persona — often use stock imagery or photographs of models as their profile pictures.
Your first step to spot a possible online scammer is to examine the profile picture carefully. Is the picture too good to be true? A simple hack to stay protected is to use reverse image search on Google. If a scammer has appropriated the imagery of a model from the Internet, the image should appear on Google when you search for it.
2. Avoid Sharing Personal Information
Sharing sensitive information isn’t safe as it puts you at risk of online scams. This includes your Social Security number, workplace details, bank account details, and passwords. Any of this data can be used for fraudulent activities.
Additionally, avoid sharing your daily routine or information about children, as scammers can use this information against you.
3. Never Divulge Financial Details
Scammers are experts at cooking up stories and expressing intense feelings to win your trust and favor. Once you start trusting them to some extent, they invent stories to exploit you. For instance, they may talk of a medical emergency or a legal issue they are caught up in and may request your financial support, indirectly or directly.
If you are in a financial crisis and share your challenges with them, the scammer may offer to help. They may suggest wire transferring money to you — which sounds enticing — and ask you to share personal details like your email address and bank details. DON’T DO IT! Don’t unintentionally accept the “help” of a scammer trying to exploit your situation to their advantage. Make sure not to share any financial information with people you only know online.
4. Limit Conversations to the Online Platform Used
During the initial days of interacting with your prospective date, limit your conversations to the dating app or website. These platforms usually have a strong team that monitors chats and works towards keeping their members safe. Until you are sure of taking this relationship to the next level, avoid sharing your phone number or other contact details.
If you decide to take your conversation outside the dating platform, set up a Google Voice number to protect your identity. The service allows you to choose a temporary number that’s linked to your smartphone or landline. This virtual number is separate from your actual phone number, hiding your actual location, zip code, or city.
5. Don’t Rush into Professing Love
This story shared by an American woman on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blog is a classic example of how scammers can trick people by exploiting emotions. Here, a person (posing as a prospective date) convinced the victim in just three months about the strong emotional connection they shared. She fell for his scheme and indulged in financial transactions with him. The result: She lost thousands of dollars!
The Federal Trade Commission warns that scammers generally woo victims by professing love too early. Go slow on getting involved emotionally as you may miss the warning signs of identifying an online dating scammer.
Scammers are notorious for sharing sob stories and emotional pitches. Be aware of such patterns and steer clear of such people.
6. Pay Attention to the Red Flags
Be on the lookout for these behaviors, as they often are the signs of a catfisher:
- They prefer to be pen pals only.
- The person is constantly traveling or isn’t available for face-to-face meetings.
- They have few pictures uploaded to their profiles.
- The person loses touch or avoids interaction for long periods.
- They send 15-16 texts in a row when you fail to respond.
- They are much older or younger than you are.
Many scammers target divorced or recently widowed seniors, so be especially alert if you belong to one of those categories. These evildoers try to win over your trust in a short period and do their best to come across as an ideal match. Gradually, with the bond getting stronger, these scammers start asking for money or your personal details to trick you into a scam.
Dating or looking for a companion is like starting a new chapter in life. Use the information above to try to find your ideal mate while protecting yourself from online dating scams.
Have you tried online dating or had issues with online dating? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page.
About the Author: Jeff Hoyt works as the Editor-in-Chief at SeniorLiving. He writes articles that inspire seniors to live a better life independently. Many of his articles have been republished on websites like MSN, AOL, Yahoo, Fox News, and HuffPost, while Reader’s Digest has named him a financial expert. He is also a member of the Writers Guild of America and Phi Beta Kappa and has been nominated for an Emmy award. Enjoy his Senior Living YouTube videos.
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