ID Theft Protection Tips for Online Dating

8 February 2016

Countless Canadians have used online dating services to meet their future partners. Unfortunately, identity thieves have also taken to using the platforms to connect with their next targets.

Fraudsters often try to play to their victims’ emotions to build a level of trust before requesting personal data or cash, be it by soliciting donations for a fake charity or claiming to be a family member in need of help over the phone. Online dating sites provide them a convenient way to build these types of emotional connections, as they can count on members to be looking for romance.

Although some dating sites have their own fraud protection measures, it is important to keep the following steps in mind whenever you are dating (whether online or offline) to best protect your identity:

Safeguard your finances

In one of the most common types of dating scams, romantic matches request that their victims send them money to pay for travel arrangements, unexpected medical bills, family hardships or any other host of reasons, counting on their victims to want to help a friend, or potential love interest, in need. The fraudsters may then disappear and stop communicating altogether, or could continue to elicit funds from their victims.

When dating, ignore any requests to send money, especially overseas or by wire transfer. We also recommend you notify the dating service immediately so that it can make sure the user’s account is in fact legitimate. In addition, never give your financial information, such as your credit card, bank account or Social Insurance Number to people you don’t know and trust or haven’t met in person.

Protect your personal information

Fraudsters may also take advantage of the relationships they build online to try to collect personal information that could be used to commit identity theft. For this reason, always be careful before revealing any of your contact information or details about where you live, and be wary of anyone pressing you for this information right out of the gate. To this end, avoid including your real name in your username, and take care not to disclose any identifying information when assembling your profile.

Surf safely

As you would with any online account, use extra caution when logging in to your dating profile from a shared computer or via a public Wi-Fi network. If you share your computer with others, be sure to log out whenever you close the browser, and be sure to turn off the auto-login or save password features. When browsing on-the-go, don’t enter your login credentials when you’re connected to a public or shared Wi-Fi network Even if the network requires a password, there’s a chance that anyone who can log in (such as other hotel guests or coffee shop patrons) will be able to see your browsing activity.

If you believe you have been victimized by a dating scam, signing up for a credit monitoring service may help you detect certain activity that may indicate fraud. Credit monitoring companies can keep an eye trained on your credit file and monitor the use of your personal information Staying up to date with changes to either of these records can put you in a better position to respond to identity theft should it occur. Contact us today to learn more!