When you think about protecting yourself when dating online, you probably think of things like avoiding catfish or safety tips when going on dates. You probably also know how to look out for different red flags when it comes to things like financial scams where individuals try to trick you into sending them money. However, one thing many online daters don’t think about is the possibility of identity theft through online dating.
The Risk of Identity Theft on Dating Apps
Most of the typical discussions about identity theft revolve around hackers who find ways to breach databases or people that attempt to access your information through things like phishing emails. Typically, you would not necessarily think of worrying about identity theft when searching for a relationship. After all, dating apps typically only ask for a few details like your name and age.
However, identity theft is increasingly becoming an issue that people see when dating online. There are many reasons why this type of crime is becoming more common. For many, it simply comes down to opportunity. For others, the increased security measures that make it difficult to access large databases force criminals to seek out people through other settings.
In the world of information security, a common notion is that the greatest weakness in security lies in the actions of people. Add in the fact that people on dating apps may have their guard down a bit when seeking relationships and this can be a lucrative setting for criminals engaged in identity thefts.
Potential Red Flags for Identity Theft
When you are chatting with a potential partner on a dating app, there tend to be a number of different red flags that could suggest that this person is trying to compromise your information. Understanding these red flags is critical for protecting yourself and staying safe.
One thing to note is if a person appears to be a far distance away. Often, they may claim to be traveling for work, visiting a sick family, or some other thing that would justify being overseas for an extended time. Another common sign can be observed when you video chat with the person. Many people engaged in these scams will do a video call while using a stagnant image, claiming there is a technical issue. They may even use a green screen to project a fake background.
Flipping the script is also a common tactic. This involves the person expressing concern that you may be scamming them. As a result, they will often ask you to prove your identity by sharing information such as a picture of your passport or driver’s license. Scams increasingly involve criminals asking you to “verify” through Google voice, which allows them to activate an account in your name. After they scam someone else, it appears that you did the scamming.
One thing that professionals urge online daters to do in order to avoid identity theft is to conduct a reverse image search on the profile picture of a match. Scammers typically grab photos online, using them to impersonate someone. This bit of digging can help you to determine if someone may not be who they claim.
If you notice any of these red flags, you should take extra effort to protect yourself. In short, just as you should never send money to someone via a dating app, you should also never provide personally identifiable information.
What To Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
If you become a victim of identity theft, you may first realize it by noticing an unexpected charge on a bank account or a strange entry on your credit report. Having your identity compromised can be a scary situation. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help protect yourself and address the situation.
The Identity Theft Resource Center is an organization that can help you understand the situation and begin to take action to restore your identity. Contacting this resource is certainly a good idea as they have staff that can learn about your specific situation and can help online daters protect themselves.
Freezing your credit with the three major credit bureaus is another common step when you are compromised by identity theft. This will prevent others – including yourself – from taking out a loan or line of credit in your name. This often allows you to work with professionals to address identity thefts without the risk of further financial damage.
Ultimately, while online daters have many options at their disposal to find romance and new relationships, these apps also open up the opportunity for criminals to target you with scams. Be sure to stay safe from identity theft by knowing the red flags and keeping your information from becoming compromised.