How to Avoid Scams When Senior Dating Online

If you’re looking to meet new people and start a relationship during retirement, there are many online dating sites and apps available. You will typically be asked to create a profile that includes your picture and some basic details about your interests and personality. You can search for potential matches and connect with others through the platform.

While online dating services provide the chance to find a new match, there are risks involved. Scammers may set up a profile and try to take advantage of others on the site, especially those who seem very trusting. Since seniors are often considered to be financially secure, thieves consistently target this demographic.

To avoid scams when senior dating online, you can:

— Protect your personal information.

— Know the financial risks.

— Look for local connections.

— Meet in proper settings.

— Make sure you’re not a target.

— Check on suspicious activity.

[See: The Best Places for Single Boomers to Retire]

Protect Your Personal Information

When meeting someone online, be careful not to share details related to your identity. “Never give out personal information, such as your phone number or address, until you’ve met, as scammers thrive upon being able to contact their victims in multiple ways,” says Beth Ribarsky, a professor of interpersonal communication at the University of Illinois–Springfield. Use strong passwords and keep your social media accounts free of references to your pet’s name, house size or financial information.

If a person wants to move quickly, this could be an indication that you should back away. “Scammers depend upon people getting wrapped up in the flurry of positive feelings,” Ribarsky says. “They may move to very personal information and conversations very quickly.” They might shower you with phrases such as “I love you” and excessive compliments to play on your emotions. If you receive this type of praise, followed by a request for your identifying information, consider it a red flag.

Know the Financial Risks

The sweetheart scam, also called the romance scam, occurs when a scammer finds someone online, builds a connection with them and then asks for money. “A common sign of a sweetheart scam is excessive flattery or affection early in the relationship in an effort to manipulate your emotions,” says Emma McGowan, a senior writer for Avast, an online global privacy and security company. “They also often have poor grammar or spelling, refuse to chat on video and share frequent excuses for why they aren’t able to meet in person.” The individual might ask for a gift card or a temporary advance. They might also request that you send checks to a certain address.

[READ: 12 Best Senior Dating Websites to Find Love in 2022.]

Look for Local Connections

If you live in New Hampshire and talk to someone who claims to be living in California, the relationship can get complicated. “The time and distance of a long-distance connection are the best covers a scammer can ask for,” says Eric Resnick, founder of ProfileHelper.com, an online dating profile writing service, based in Orlando. It will usually be difficult to meet in person right after meeting each other. “That means they have all the time they need to get what they want out of you without having to worry about being found out,” Resnick says.

Consider your region when meeting people online. “A good rule of thumb is to not search for matches further away than you’d be willing to travel twice a week,” Resnick says. “This not only sets you up for better potential relationships, but it will protect you from anyone using a distance-based dating scam.”

Meet in Proper Settings

Keeping initial conversations on the online dating platform can help you stay protected. “The moment you take things private, you are at much greater risk of being sent a virus or other malware,” Resnick says. “If someone contacts you and immediately wants to move the conversation off of the dating site and into texting or your private email, this is a red flag.”

When setting up an in-person get together, look for a public place. Agree to meet in a coffee shop, busy restaurant or another place that has other people present. Tell someone you trust where you’ll be and how long you plan to stay.

Make Sure You’re Not a Target

Just as burglars look for homes that have open windows, poor outdoor lighting or no alarm system, dating scammers prey on the easiest targets. “They look for people who talk about how generous they are, mention they are looking to fill a hole in their life or looking to move forward after losing a spouse,” Resnick says. Anything you portray that makes you seem vulnerable could increase your risks of getting scammed.

Avoid discussing topics such as loneliness when you initially connect with a potential match. Make your profile positive and forward-looking, without mentions of your relationship history. “It not only makes you more attractive to real matches, but it makes you less attractive to scammers,” Resnick says.

[READ: 25 Things to Do When You Retire.]

Check on Suspicious Activity

If something doesn’t seem right when dating online, do some research on your own. Look for the individual’s other public accounts, such as their social media handles, to see if they align. Evaluate their LinkedIn picture or Facebook page to see if they are the same as their online dating profile. Individuals with no social media presence, or no friends or followers, could be using a fake identity.

For financial fraud, get help from others. “If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, block the scammer immediately on all forms of communication,” McGowan says. “Tell someone you trust, and report the scam to the online dating app or social media website where the scammer first messaged you.”

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How to Avoid Scams When Senior Dating Online originally appeared on usnews.com

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