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Keep online dating safe this Valentine’s and every day

February 14th 2020

Online dating brings so much convenience and choice of dates – especially as Valentine Day is here. We love it!

Hear the harrowing accounts of actual romance fraud victims talking with Cambridgeshire Police, here

But it’s also critical that it is done safely and securely. Here, our experts reveal their top ten tips for happy online dating to help protect you from unwanted romance scams and other dangers that can lurk in the world of online dating. 

Pick a reputable dating service and don’t move the conversation away from the website or app’s messaging service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are, and that their motives are honourable.

Check that the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’, ‘romance scam’ or ‘catfish’ into your search engine. Do a reverse image search to see if the photo is actually of somebody else.

Get to know the person, not the profile. Ask plenty of questions, don’t let your heart rule your head and don’t rush into anything. This may also help you avoid becoming a victim of a false relationship where you’re simply being used for sex.

Never, ever send money, your bank details or other passwords to someone you’ve met online, no matter how convincing the reason they give for needing it, nor how long you've been speaking to them. Banks usually do their best to track and recover your payment, but aren’t responsible for your losses if the request is fraudulent.

Don’t overshare personal details. Revealing your full name, date of birth, home address or workplace could lead to fraud, identity theft or even personal harm. Protect the names, details and locations of your children and family members.

Be wary about sending intimate images or videos of yourself to someone you’ve met online. This could lead to problems later on, and you can never be sure who will get to view the content.

Be wary of anyone you meet online who tells you not to mention them to your friends and family. Fraudsters and sexual predators work by isolating their victims.

Exercise digital responsibly: don’t use dating services to ask for money, promote products, encourage illegal or irresponsible behaviour, spread ideologies or carry out recruitment of any kind.

Before meeting someone in person for the first time, tell a friend or family member that you’re meeting, and where. Keep your mobile phone switched on, and think about arranging for someone to call you during the date to give you the opportunity to make your excuses and leave early.

If you become a victim of romance fraud, don’t be embarrassed but report it immediately to Action Fraud on www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040 – as well as the dating site where you met the perpetrator. Report any assaults to the police.

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, said: “In the first half of last year romance scams rose by a huge 64%, with women being the most vulnerable. Online dating is a great way to meet new people – but it’s always sensible to be cautious of potential threats. Enjoy, but stay safe and read our top ten tips to avoid romance scams. To find out more visit getsafeonline.org.”