Identity theft is a major issue in the US, with an estimated 14.4 million people falling victim to it in 2019 alone. The problem with identity theft is that it can manifest in many ways and there are many tricks that people can use to get your personal information.
One is through online dating. It’s not uncommon for scammers to use these sites to find victims, and it is your responsibility to protect yourself against them. Unfortunately, too many users don’t how to go about it. Here are a few ways to protect your personal data when online dating.
Use an Identity Theft Protection Service
The very first thing that you should do is look at identity theft protection services. These will alert you if they notice suspicious activity across your accounts. Some will check if someone is trying to use your social security number to open accounts.
You can check out this list of top ten ID theft prevention services reviews if you want more tips for how to choose a solution. Different tools will use different technology while some will be more extensive than others, so choose the right one for what you need and what you can afford.
Keep Information to a Minimum
You have to be very careful with the type of information you share online, even things that might seem benign. Something as simple as what high school you went to could give a person access to crucial information about you. Do not put your date of birth on these websites either. Date of birth is still being used by many organizations, including certain banks, to verify access, so only share it if you absolutely have to and make sure that it isn’t made public.
Be Careful with Location Settings
Another thing you should do is either turn off your location settings or use them sparingly and only when it’s necessary. Location settings can be used by these services to sell advertising based on it. You also display more information that people can track you down with that way.
Do Not Use Your Facebook or Google Account to Sign Up
A lot of people have the habit of using their Facebook accounts or Google accounts to log on to sites. While it might be convenient in some cases, you don’t want to create a hard link between your social media accounts and your online dating one. Not only could someone use this to find more information about you, but data could start circulating between accounts and you’ll lose some of your privacy that way.
Vet Anyone You Get Serious With
If you feel like you’re hitting it off with someone, you have to make sure that the person you’re talking to is who they say they are. But more importantly, you have to check how your first interactions are going as you may be able to spot red flags.
The biggest one is if anyone starts talking about their hardships. They will often not ask you for anything directly. They could just mention some of the issues they may be experiencing to try to tug on your heartstrings. You should also be suspicious of someone who claims to be from the US but is either living or working abroad.
You have to make sure that what they say is consistent first, and wait until you share personal information. Chances are you’ll be able to get their real name at some point. You can use that information to run a background check on them. There are plenty of services that will allow you to check things like arrests, court appearances, and convictions.
You also have to verify their pictures if you can. You need to look for photos in different settings, and they have to be recent too. If you want to make sure, you can either ask them to send a picture with a specific object or ask to Facetime them. This will be the fastest and easiest way to know if you’re dealing with a scammer.
Use Strong Passwords
We cannot stress the importance of using strong passwords for online dating profiles enough. Hacking passwords is much easier than you think, and if you have bad habits when choosing them, some will take advantage of these vulnerabilities.
This is because hackers use programs that try thousands of password combinations in seconds, and the easiest ones are the most generic. Do not use words or number sequences that would be easy to decipher. You have to make sure that the keyword has a least an upper-case letter, one number, and a symbol.
These are all tips that you can apply to make sure that your personal information remains safe on online dating sites. Safeguard yourself and think twice before oversharing with someone you just met.