In the last few years, the popularity of online dating apps and sites has grown leaps and bounds. It is an effective way to connect with people. Even though you can have a plethora of positive experiences, these platforms come with their fair share of risks, especially in terms of safety.
When you are interacting with a stranger over the internet, you are subjecting yourself to the risk of identity theft, stalking, online harassment, catfishing, digital dating abuse, and many such things.
Online dating is a risky business. Sure, you might have heard some horror stories from your friends, but in reality, there are many other risks that come with online love.
People have Different Motives Behind Using a Dating App
Often, people think that dating apps are just for hookups but the reasons behind using a dating app vary from one person to the other. A study has found the most common reasons behind using a dating app-
- Looking for sexual partners
- Finding a romantic partner
- Building friendships
- Curiosity and entertainment
- Self-validation and improvement
The same study has concluded that women use dating apps, such as Tinder more for self-validation or finding a friend. While men use these apps more to find romantic or sexual partners. People use the app based on the kind of relationship they are looking for.
But not all dating sites are safe. Apart from landing up with the wrong person, you might also get scammed. There are thousands of scam dating sites and apps waiting to prey on you.
Spotting Scam Dating Apps and Sites
Fraud dating sites have some common characteristics. Before you dive in to try out a new dating site or app, look out for the warning signs suggesting that the business is a fake one.
But what are these warning signs? Check them out below.
- Website Using Stock Images
Since a scam site won’t have any genuine users, they will use stock images from free websites to trick people. So, notice if the images are too glossy and the person in the photograph looks too polished.
The picture will make you feel like it is too good to be true. Avoid sites using stock images as profile photos.
- Asking for Upfront Payment
Scam sites operate with one motive in mind, making money or getting hold of your financial information. They will not let you do anything unless you pay a certain fee or share your credit card details.
Remember, a genuine site will allow you to test it out by offering limited actions before it requests a payment. So, check the site before becoming a part of the site.
- Promises to Match with People from Developing Countries
You will come across many sites claiming to match you with beautiful and exotic men and women from places, such as Vietnam, China, Brazil, and Mexico. But there is little or no information on how you can meet these men or women who are miles away. Furthermore, they will ask for an upfront payment for these services.
- Poor Reviews
The best way to learn if a website is scamming is to read the reviews. Theoretically, it will help in avoiding fraudulent and dishonest dating sites or apps. But often people are embarrassed to share their experience with a particular dating site due to their nature. Also, there can be sites with fake reviews.
So, if you only find positive reviews, bad reviews, or no reviews, take it as a red flag and avoid the site.
Data Apps Leading to Data Leaks
Dating sites and apps are an emerging trend. But in the last few decades, there has been a long list of data scams and privacy mishaps.
Many scrupulous dating apps or sites collect sensitive and valuable data from their users. These data are used for hackers to look for their targets. Usernames, photos, ages, telephone numbers, and email addresses are a few details that you need to share with dating apps. There are a few that also ask for medical data, sexual preference, sexual orientation, and geolocation data.
It is this data that makes dating sites and apps an attractive target for hackers. These dating apps might have security flaws and they sell your data to various businesses without your permission. No, they might not be sharing your data with hackers but you don’t know where your data is going to land. In 2018, Grindr, the gay dating app, had admitted to sharing its user’s HIV status with many companies.
Companies are not the only ones looking to get hold of your data. Many dating apps are also vulnerable to breaches and hacks as they use poor security systems.
How to Protect Yourself While Dating Online?
Here are a few tips that will help in navigating the risk of using an online dating app.
- Be Selective
Choose a good dating app. Don’t just choose an app because it is charging less money for some of its features. It will save you considerable steps in the long run.
- Reduce Your Online Footprint
It primarily focuses on the online section. Make sure that you secure all your social media profiles, disable geotagging, and hide your phone number. When these details aren’t available online, your online problems won’t turn into real-life issues.
- Avoid Sharing Your Password
Many have the habit of sharing their password with friends and people they know, generally for convenience. But eventually, they forget about it.
When you give someone access to your private folder, they can betray you on a whim. So, avoid sharing your passwords to maintain privacy.
- Use a VPN
To maintain your online privacy and security while dating, you can use a VPN. It will mask your IP address that ensures that no one gets access to your location. Moreover, the information you share with the dating site or app passes through an encrypted tunnel. So, no one gets access to the personal details you are sharing with the site.
One of the best dating apps you can use to protect yourself is TheFastVPN. It can be used on your iOS or Android devices or Windows macOS, or Linux systems. It ensures you enjoy a fast but stable connection while browsing through the profiles on the dating site. FastVPN is very easy to install and use on your device.