How You (and Your Teen) Can Stay Safe While Looking for Love Online

By on Feb 13, 2020

Valentine’s Day is such a double-edged sword. If you’re feeling the love and just can’t get enough of your sweetheart – then I wish you a wonderful day. If, on the other hand, you are unattached and feeling a little lonely then chances are you’re thinking about trying your luck on an online dating app.

Every year, traffic to dating apps surges around Valentine’s Day because let’s be honest – who wants to be lonely? But it’s not just adults who frequent dating sites to find their perfect match – teens do too!

Dating Apps – Proceed with Caution!!!

The increasing popularity of these sites means that scammers are spending considerable time and energy targeting people to con. And don’t forget that many teens are on these sites too – even as young as 16! You don’t have to look far to find stories of people who have been tricked into transferring large sums of money to their ‘online lovers’. And in more recent years, romance scammers are now tricking new partners into illegally relaying stolen funds!

Romance Scammers Now Searching for New ‘Online Love’ in Games

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), romance scammers are now also targeting non-dating apps to look for new vulnerable ‘online lovers’. In fact, 38 Aussies lost almost $600,000 through gaming app Words with Friends, an online version of Scrabble. Most of the losses were through direct bank transfers however iTunes, Steam and Google Play gift cards were also commonly used. Games such as Words with Friends are very popular with both tweens and teens, so please share these stores with them.

How to Stay Safe While Searching for Love Online

I have several friends who have found the ‘love of their lives’ online so please remember that not everyone you meet online is a scammer. However, it is essential that you are ALWAYS on guard and cautiously suspicious until such time as your new online love has proven themselves. Here are my top tips for staying safe:

  1. Limit how personal you get 

    Scammers today prey on the human need to feel connected to one and other. The key is to be always careful with the information that you share online. Whether it’s Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, or even Facebook or Instagram, only share what is absolutely necessary. Your personal information can easily be pieced together by a scammer to access your personal information, your bank accounts or even steal your identity. Start with being clever with your profile names on dating sites and apps – never give out your full name.

  2. Do your homework

    If you’ve met someone online, always do your homework before meeting them in person. Why not get Google working for you? A Google search is a great place to start and even using Google Images will help you get a better understanding of a person. And don’t forget to check out their LinkedIn account too. Another option would be to track down mutual friends and ask questions about your new online partner.

  3. Think before you send

    Sharing intimate pictures or videos with the person you’re dating online may be a good idea right now but please take a moment before pressing send to think about how this could come back to haunt you in the future. Remember, once those pictures and videos are online, they are online forever. Even social media apps with disappearing images, such as Snapchat, can be easily circumvented with a screenshot.  It’s not just celebrities who have intimate pictures spread around the Internet!

  4. Make passwords a priority

    Ensure all your online dating and social media accounts, and all your devices, have separate and unique passwords. Ideally, each password should have a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. I love using a nonsensical, crazy sentence!

And please remember to share your online romance vigilance with your budding teen Romeos and Juliets. It is incredibly common for teens to use dating sites to find someone special. Even though it may be a tad awkward and uncomfortable, as parents we need to do all we can to keep our offspring safe – particularly when their hormones are raging!!

Till Next Time!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

 

 

About the Author

Cyber Safety Ambassador

McAfee’s Cyber Safety Ambassador for Australia and New Zealand, Alex, is a mother of four boys who juggles family, work, home life, hobbies and her children’s ever growing social lives (on and offline). Like many parents, Alex has concerns about the safety of her children, who are growing up online world. Alex’s blogs are about ...

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