Love is in the air – and so are romance scams on the Internet.
Let’s face it, it’s a digital world and sometimes the only place to meet people are through apps or social media. As much as you think you are being very cautious on a dating app, you probably aren’t 100 per cent protected from being scammed.
Here are some suggestions when making your profile:
- When deciding which app to use, look at their safety features. If you can’t find them or they are confusing, try another app.
- Use a unique photo (one that is not used on any other social media platforms, as it is very easy for people to do a reverse image search and find you on other sites)
- Don’t put your last name, nicknames, address, or personal information in your profile. Do not link your profile to your social accounts. I would even suggest creating a new email account specifically for a dating app.
- Apps use your location as a way to connect you with people in your area, however ensure you have control over these settings because you do not want a complete stranger to pinpoint where you are.
- Consider using the free-trial version first before you decide to commit to a paid version.
- Message the person only inside the app, even after you meet them. If it doesn’t work out, the person at least won’t have your personal cell phone number.
- If you meet in person, pick a location that is very public, let a close friend know where you are and be aware and alert (don’t leave your drink unattended, and keep the first couple dates short) and always drive yourself to the location. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t push through that – it’s your intuition telling you something is off, so have an exit plan.
Lastly, if you are messaging someone on the Internet and they are asking for money, gift card numbers or anything of you, consider it a “red flag.” Often a scammer will continue on with a friendship and convince you that you are destined to be together, however they don’t have enough money for a flight, or their car needs some repairs – whatever the drama is, it’s the “hook” to convince you to part with your money. Be open with friends/family as they sometimes can spot a scam better than you.
Please contact the Penticton Community Policing unit at 250-770-5688/5684 for more information.