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Experts told us their best tips for online dating apps in 2024 | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans


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Valentine’s Day is here, so naturally, the country’s premier security agency has to warn the love-stricken souls about the risks of romance scams. In case that term doesn’t ring a bell, it involves a bad actor trapping a victim into a sham love affair. In 2022 alone, romance scams led to the loss of around $1.3 billion.

But hey, humanity is driven by a primal urge to feel loved. To find a companion. That urge drives us towards online dating platforms, where an elaborate net waits for anyone not reading the blaring red alerts. But in matters of the heart, we often ignore the brain and end up losing our minds and some money.

“It never hurts to do your due diligence and verify the person on the other end of the conversation,” Darius Kingsley, Head of Consumer Business Practices at JPMorgan Chase & Co., tells Digital Trends. Kingley’s brief advice is to avoid questions about wealth and privacy while not feeling shy about shutting down contact.

But how to find love and also avoid scams? We dug up research papers that can offer a scientific perspective on the art of online dating — and then talked to cybersecurity experts to seek tips on how to avoid falling into a trap. Just to give you an idea of the trap, an average victim of romance scams lost north of $4,400, yet the trend is not showing signs of slowing.

Expert tips for online dating apps

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I will put the bad — and the almost obvious truth — first. Most of these dating apps are out to grab your engagement and then extract a few Benjamin’s from your wallet with premium subscriptions and tokens. As per research coming out of Carnegie Mellon University, dating platforms follow a model where they maximize revenue instead of maximizing matches.

As such, they recommend the more popular users on the feed instead of those profiles that share more hobbies and should be an ideal match for you. That reality is not going to change anytime soon. But some positive observations originate from laborious research work that just might get you lucky. Here’s a few of them:

First, do not make shabby spelling mistakes. Writing like a fourth-grader on your dating profile, hoping that the teacher will catch that in your homework, but the mistake won’t appear on your examination grade sheet, simply doesn’t apply to the brutal world of online dating.

“Profile owners with profile texts containing errors were evaluated as less socially and romantically attractive,” says the study. Misspelling basic words such as “the” and writing “hte” instead is seen as “a signal of sloppiness, clumsiness, and inattentiveness,” and that’s a surefire way of getting a left swipe on your dating profile. It also suggests that your dating intentions are not serious or you might not be particularly intelligent. either way, not a good look.

Nik / Unpslash

You should also make the most of your first impression, digital or in-person. Now, in the world of online dating, the first impression is obviously your profile description and the pictures in your profile or the first date. Statistical modeling employed by researchers revealed that the first impression not only maximizes your chances of getting a second date but also serves as a strong signal of compatibility, which can go a long way in your quest to find the special one.

Needless to say, you might want to pay special attention to how you describe yourself or manage your fashion game. On the point of profile descriptions, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE journal says you should try to sound original. “Owners of profiles scoring higher on text originality were evaluated as more intelligent and humorous and, in turn, as more attractive,” it notes. A bit of humor, some metaphors, and a description of your intentions behind dating a person can just prove to be the magic potion.

Nik / Unsplash

Talking about dating profile descriptions, that’s where things get interesting. Ideally, one might think that the more they detail their personality, the higher the chances of another person developing some intrigue and potentially starting a conversation. Experts at the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, found that if you also show interest in knowing the person checking out your profile, your chances go up.

“What they want to be doing is saying, ‘I really care about you, and I’m going to get to know you and be there for you and listen to you and be a great partner,” said one of the researchers. In a nutshell, try not to sound like an over-accomplished narcissist; instead, try to sound like a real human and show enthusiasm toward knowing the person on the other end.

Dating apps aren’t a good coping mechanism for your issues. People who use dating apps for their intended purpose — finding a romantic partner or meeting a new person — are overall more satisfied compared to folks who are not in control of their emotions, show a lack of commitment, or lack the perseverance that is necessary for turning a match into a potential long-term partnership.

Finally, try to rise above physical attributes because it works both ways. The more you are obsessed about your looks, the higher the chances of you feeling anxious that a potential romantic partner will find a flaw in your physical appearance. “People who are more appearance-oriented are more likely to experience social physique anxiety, which is a concern about physical appearance in social situations,” says the study.

What safety experts suggest

Dall-E 2 / Digital Trends

Now that you are armed with all the scientific dating knowledge in the world proceed safely and keep an eye open, both proverbially and literally. Exactly a year ago, I wrote a guide about how you can conduct yourself to steer clear of any scams. To mark this year’s day of love, we talked to cybersecurity and relationship experts, seeking their best advice.

Steve Grobman, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at McAfee, says one needs to execute “a bit of a balancing act.” Starting with personal safety, he suggests you post pictures that aren’t personally identifiable or can be traced back to you in any capacity. For example, avoid using pictures that show your workplace or college.

Touching on the topic of fake profiles, one can never be too sure. “If the profile picture appears too polished, overly professional, or just seems out of place, this may be a good indication that you are dealing with a fake dating account,” says Grobman. He also suggests doing a reverse image search to see for any identity discrepancies, especially those on a linked social media profile.

Jon Clay, Vice President of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro, tells Digital Trends that in February alone, the company identified a romance scam net involving pictures of beautiful Russian women. But we live in the generative AI, which opens a new avenue of risk factors.

“In the past, many of the images were stolen from the Internet and were of real people, but in the future, we’ll likely see fake images created by AI (Deepfake), which will be easier to create than trying to find images on the net,” Clay warns of the ominous future ahead.

Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Angelika Koch (Relationship and Break-Up Expert) and Edward Reese (Community Manager and Gender and Sexuality Expert) at Taimi, a dating app for members of the LGBTQ+ community, also offered some valuable insights into how one should tackle the maze of online dating apps. The first line of action is to come out as a person with diverse interests, well-groomed, and not sound like a negative person with unclear motives.

While you are readying yourself, it is also worth keeping in mind the very real chances of a dating app burnout. “It’s best to limit your time on the app, and if you begin to experience burnout, consider stepping back to allow yourself to recharge and regain perspective,” warns Koch. But even with balanced immersion, one should not abandon vigilance.

Reese, who is also a trans rights activist, suggests that the best route forward is to block problematic profiles that exhibit the following signs:

  • A person avoids meeting in person with open excuses, probably afraid of exposing their real selves compared to what they parade online.
  • They start getting personal rather quickly, ask risqué questions, and solicit personal photos or videos.
  • The person avoids questions about their life and profession or gives sketchy responses.
  • If a dating match starts asking for money. This is a massive red flag, and before you fall for any intricately woven tale of personal tragedy, block them.

Put yourself first

Any online dating interaction involving money is a bad omen. Run! Dall.E / Digital Trends

The question of self-worth is pretty important, which directly ties into how desperately you want to score a date and find a partner. “The crucial point is, if you sit around thinking nothing is a red flag and that everything is subjective and fine, then that can be an understanding, kind, and compassionate way to be,” writes Lane Moore in her book “You’re Not the Only One F*cking Up: Breaking the Endless Cycle of Dating Mistakes.”

“In my experience, though, it can also lead to grossly ignoring actual and reasonable red flags, and more importantly, an ignoring of your own needs,” adds Moore, an actor, TV personality, and writer who also hosts her own acclaimed comedy show called “Tinder Live!”

Another aspect that many young digital citizens ignore is the rise of buzzy new dating apps that are often quite risky, notes Michael Scheumack, chief innovation officer at IdentityIQ, which offers identity theft protection solutions, including mobile apps that offer real-time fraud alerts, among other facilities.

”Be cautious as scam dating sites can be filled with fake profiles that trick you into paying for a subscription, yet the profiles on the website are not linked to real people,” says Scheumack. He also warns that if a person asks for sensitive details such as SSN numbers or seems overly eager to take the conversation to another platform, one should exercise caution as those are tell-tale signs of a brewing scam.

Taking a chat to another app is a particularly huge red flag, warns John Wilson, a senior threat research fellow at Fortra. “They prefer Whatsapp or Google Chat to iMessage or SMS. They do this because multiple members of their gang can log into the same WhatsApp or Google Chat account to carry on the conversation 24×7,” he warns.

So, we’re back to square one. Follow your heart, but don’t ignore your brain.

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