Online Dating Risks and How to Stay Protected

Ever since WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, the number of people looking for love online has increased tremendously. According to dating.com, online dating has seen a huge spike since the beginning of March this year. Because of social distancing and quarantine guidelines given by various governments to try curb the spread of the virus, most singles haven’t had a real date in a while. Online dating has come to the rescue by making it possible for people to have virtual dates on apps such as Zoom and FaceTime.

While they are good for social distancing, most online dating apps do not have adequate security, making their users vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other risks. Let’s look at some of the risks you should be aware of while dating online.

Romance Scams

Dating sites are full of scammers who create fake profiles to try and build a relationship with possible victims starting with building trust. They will go as far as talking to you several times a day, just so you can trust them, then later make up some story and ask you for money.

Sextortion

While dating online, it may reach a point where you are very comfortable with each other that you start flirting and even performing cybersex. But, remember the people you meet on the internet may not be who they say they are.

There have been cases of criminals using fake profiles to befriend victims online, and then coaxing them to perform sexual deeds in front of the webcam. Victims, mostly women, are coerced into these activities using threats or financial incentives. The recorded webcam videos are then used by criminals to threaten their victims into sending them money or they risk their embarrassing videos being sent to friends and family.

Data Breaches

As mentioned above, many dating services lack adequate security measures. Numerous dating apps have been hacked and user data compromised. The risk is even higher right now due to the high influx of users on apps such as eHarmony, Match, and Tinder. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the high number of people on these apps to steal personal information including home addresses, names, and credit card information and using them for their personal gain.

How to Ensure Safety While Online Dating

It is clear that online dating comes with a lot of risks; but, you can remain safe by taking some simple precautionary measures as outlined below.

Use a VPN

You should highly consider using a VPN for privacy if you are really serious about your online dating safety. A VPN will mask your IP address and encrypt your internet traffic, making it inaccessible to cybercriminals. This way, your personal data and privacy would be guaranteed as you browse on online dating sites.

Be Careful When You Take the Chat off the Platform

To ensure your safety, communicate with your potential date on the dating platform, and only take the communication off the app when you feel comfortable chatting with the person via more exclusive communication channels like email. Don’t give in to the pressure of the other person wanting to take the communication outside of the dating app. Note that getting off the platform means you won’t be getting any help in case of anything.

Avoid Sharing Intimate Photos and Videos of Yourself

By sharing compromising videos and photos of yourself online, you are exposing yourself to serious security risks such as sextortion. Don’t be lured into taking off your clothes or performing intimate acts on a webcam. You may be unknowingly dealing with cybercriminals.

Despite the current restrictions of social distancing and quarantine, online dating apps are offering singles a means of connecting with each other. Unlike traditional approaches to dating, online dating is convenient and makes it easy for you to meet people with similar values, backgrounds, and interests. But, even with all its advantages, online dating comes with some risks. The good news is that with a few precautionary measures, you can safely meet your soulmate online without all the hustle of traditional dating.

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