With Valentine's Day upon us, the Better Business Bureau is saying people need to take steps to protect themselves while dating online.
Bad dates are a risk everyone undertakes while trying to find a relationship. Those risks can escalate to extreme levels, such as having to take out a restraining order as happened to one Shrewsbury woman before she finally found a steady relationship.
However, the Better Business Bureau is warning of the financial threats that can come from online dating. Scammers can pose as anyone online, they say.
The BBB and Western Union have partnered to offer consumers tips on how to avoid scams. Here are some ways to stay safe from relationship scams:
- Be on your guard. Only send money to people you have met in person.
- Be especially cautious with people you meet online, even if you correspond with them via email or phone.
- Be especially wary of anyone who asks you to leave the dating website immediately to continue your conversation through email or IM, as this allows fraudsters to carry out their scam without the dating site having a record of your encounter.
- Be cautious if someone claims to be local but is currently out of the country. Fraudsters could be operating from overseas, making it more difficult for authorities to track them down.
- Never give your banking information to people that you have not met in person or businesses that you don’t know.
- Always verify every emergency situation before sending money. Fraudsters can trick their victims in a variety of ways. Sometimes they instantly express feelings of love and other times they lead their victims on for a while.
- No matter how much your relationship might seem like the real thing, you should be suspicious if someone starts asking for information like credit card, bank or government ID numbers or to send money.
For more information on scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper here.