Lonely Hearts Club: How Not to Go Looking for Love Online

It is close to that time of the year, and love is in the air. With less than a week to go before red roses arrive and dates are planned, Valentine’s Day is also peak time for scamming lonely hearts for money. Cybercriminals have fallen in love with Valentine’s Day and the trend of the increasing number of singles looking for love online through dating apps to take advantage of the human need to be loved.

In the most recent annual crime brief released by the Singapore Police Force, Internet love scams increased by 29.9% to 825 cases in 2017, from 635 cases in 2016. The annual crime brief also revealed that Singaporeans looking for love online were duped of a record $37 million last year, with one victim forking out almost $6 million, thus signalling to a worrying trend of Singaporeans easily trusting strangers whom they have befriended online.

Thanks to technology, the world is now your digital oyster when it comes to finding love. Before singles begin start answering personal questions, uploading photos, and chatting with strangers on dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel, it is a good idea to add a measure of security to one’s strategy when looking for love online. 

David Freer, Vice President, Consumer, Asia Pacific at McAfee, shares 5 ways to protect one’s privacy on dating apps:
1.       Choose a reputable dating app: Be aware of the terms of service for dating apps and understand the importance of what the company is planning to do with all the data it gathers from you.
2.       Keep personal info zipped: Go through your digital footprint and delete any personally identifiable information such as where you live, your family, your favourite places, or your job, that could help someone track you outside of the dating app.
3.       Check your digital self: Avoid using the geo-tagging features on social media platforms to minimise chances of getting tracked daily and consider making social media accounts private for the duration of online dating.
4.       Beware of the catfish: Do your homework on the other person as much as possible and if something feels fishy, rethink meeting in real life.
5.       Inform a friend: Let a friend know all the details of the meeting including the name of the person you are meeting. Always meet a “date” in a public place and never allow a date to pick you up or drop you off at your home.

Following these precautions will help consumers keep in the clear from falling victims to the malicious tricks of love scammers. If you would like to hear more about this, I will be more than happy to connect you with David Freer for an interview. 

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