How To Not Get Digitally Screwed On Dating Apps
Hook-up apps such as Grindr or Tinder are go-to places to get yourself emotionally horny. Superficially harmless and physically guiltless, they tend to possess increasing amounts of risks. Droolers, sexual predators and sultry bots are just the tip of the iceberg compared to identity thieves who prey on susceptible ones simply by sharing their ‘hot’ pics.
Most of the single millennials have at least two dating apps on their phones. Although romance scams usually target both men and women, the latter part gets bogged down much more often.
“Gullible nature of most of their users has transformed online hook-up services to goldmines for scammers. It’s quite easy to identify people who can be vulnerable to romantic, sexual or simply comforting stunts just by looking at their profiles,” says Naomi Hodges, Cybersecurity Advisor at Surfshark. “What’s frightening is that those users easily share information with strangers which is personal and can lead bad people to their doorstep.”
Most stories of women getting virtually ‘raped’ can be different in nature, but the core principle is straightforward: you find an excellent match, he pings you on a chat, appears nice and sweet.
You chat with him for a couple of days, he starts to get personal, you do that too.
He sends you some pics, then a link, you click on it, and… strange things begin to happen with your Facebook and email accounts; you start to receive PayPal invoices.
Probably, that guy hasn’t written you back for some time. Was he actually George?
“If an identity thieves hack one of your accounts, most likely they will easily crack the other ones, such as PayPal. Actually, it might be enough for them to pretend being you, ask some of your friends or relatives for money or maybe other info,” explains Naomi Hodges.
To most, it’s obvious that when your match starts asking strange questions about your job, or even worse, the financial situation, the red flag rises. However, the most clever scams are far more advanced. A recent discovery of a computer researcher shows that it’s possible to hack a device simply by sharing a photo.
Scammers don’t need much of your information because, for instance, breaking into your Facebook profile will probably be enough to steal your identity or at least get some very sensitive facts enough to blackmail you.
Here is some security advice on how not to get digitally screwed:
Check his profile pic with Google Image Search. You might be surprised by the number of profile pics which are actually stolen. If you manage to find a photo match during the search – report that profile so that others would be safer.
Don’t overshare. The less you reveal about yourself – the better. If you find a match based on physical appearance, you’ll get a chance to unravel him in a chat. Nobody has to know your home or any other address, your school or college.
Don’t click on any links. They might contain malware or tracking material. However, if you really want to see that “it’s only for you” or “so cute, isn’t it” pic – use a VPN service.
Chat only within the app until you certainly trust him. Messaging through other networks means more open doors to get into your personal space.
Have a video chat. It might feel weird, but it’s always a good practice to see his real face and reactions before you meet in person. Just to be sure, you know?
If something weird is happening, don’t be embarrassed and always report it to the network or even the police. Only 15% of romance scams are ever reported because the victims usually feel ashamed. It’s a bad thing because others might get hurt too.
Change your passwords every time you have some doubts. It’s frustrating and boring, but might actually save your nerves.