This February, romance is in the air, but remember to date safely when looking for love online. Scammers increasingly use online dating sites and social media to commit fraud. Romance scammers are masters of disguise who may create fake online profiles with attractive photos swiped from the internet or even assume the identities of real people.
Protect yourself by recognizing common tactics that these fraudsters are using and know what to do if you believe you or a loved one have been victimized.
Pay attention to red flags
Common signs that you’re speaking with a scammer are if they:
- Profess their love to you quickly and quickly move the relationship along.
- Ask to move the communication off of the dating site early. Many online dating sites have safety features; scammers know this and want to push you away from those protections.
- Claim to be overseas for business or military service.
- Ask you to send them money or gift cards.
- Cancel plans to visit you and always has a reason they can’t use video chat.
Pro Tip: Not all scams involve you sending money to a fraudster. Sometimes scammers will ask to send you money. This type of operation is called a “money mule” scheme. In this scenario, the scammer will ask to deposit funds into your account and request that you send these funds to other individuals. This activity can be tied to money laundering and should be reported to your bank.
Don’t let these scammers steal your heart and wallet. Always take the following precautions when chatting with people online:
- If something feels suspicious, share the situation with someone you trust to gain an outside perspective.
- Always be careful with your personal information and what you disclose online.
- Never wire or transfer funds from your bank account to an online love interest.
- Do not share your online account information, such as username and password, with an online love interest.
Actions to take if you’ve been scammed
If you or a loved one has fallen for any of these common tactics, be sure to:
- Contact your bank right away. We’re here for you 24/7; if you need to report possible fraud, call us at 800-860-8821.
- Report the scammer’s profile to the online dating site or social media platform that you’re using.
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission here.
Online dating is a great way to meet people, but it’s essential to stay aware and vigilant of possible threats by scammers. Visit our Security Center for more resources and tips to stay safe online.