10/04/2020

Safeguarding Yourself From Online Dating Risks

 

Image from Pixabay.com

Since the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have found solace on the internet to enjoy goods and services. Cinemas have been replaced by online streaming, malls have been replaced with online stores, and school campuses with online classes. The internet encourages social distancing and goes in line with standards seeking to prevent a further spread of the pandemic.

Online dating hasn’t been left out in this trend. Individuals who used to consider online dating weird have begun to take it up. OkCupid, one of the world’s leading dating websites has reported a 10% increase in matches and a 20% increase in conversations in April.

Privacy Dangers of Online Dating

Dating online is, however, prone to privacy risks. Through dating websites, people are more likely to be susceptible to social engineering, webcam blackmail, and romance fraud. In 2019, over $200 million was lost to dating scams as reported by the Federal Trade Commission.

Individuals who are dating online trust their ‘partners’ more. Hence they could be willing to install the malware in the form of a legitimate file, send private images and videos, and transfer money.

There are also concerns about the security of user data on online dating websites. MobiFriends, a popular dating app, experienced a privacy breach with the details of its almost 4 million users posted on online forums. OkCupid users also complained about account hacks due to the website’s security negligence.

Despite the numerous risks in the online dating space, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the services. Below, you’ll find tips to practice safe online dating.

Protecting Yourself from Online Dating Risks

1.       Do Your Research

If you’re about to date someone online, make some research on the person. Search the person’s name online and ransack through the numerous bios that’ll come up. If the person you’re dating has no history online, you’re likely dating a scammer.

2.       Use a Google Voice Number

One of the best ways to protect your identity is by using a Google Voice number when your match asks for it. Google Voice numbers can receive calls, voicemails, and messages like normal numbers.

3.       Video Chat your Date

Endeavor to video chat your date before you two finally meet. This way, you can make sure you’re not talking to a person with a fake identity. Most scammers look for ways to avoid video chats. Once you notice your date avoiding video chats, it could be that you’re talking with a scammer. While video chatting, don’t forget to keep your personal information to yourself.

4.       Don’t Reveal too much Information

Avoid revealing too much information to the website you’re using and your date. Only fill in information that’s needed and leave the others blank when signing up. The same advice goes for when you’re conversing with your date. Avoid giving information like the places you frequent, your location, the names of your family members, and so on.

5.       Use a VPN Before Accessing the Service

Since you can take several precautions and still have your data compromised, you need to use a VPN. A Virtual Private Network encrypts your data and hides it from hackers. From the moment you intend to sign up on the dating website, download a VPN app to protect your data.

This tool modifies data like your IP address. An IP address can reveal the persons’ location, leaving the person susceptible to different risks. In the case of a privacy hack, your sensitive data would be safe.

- Author: Techwarn

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