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Take care when online dating

Published: 14 February 2020

Love don't cost a thing

If you're out looking for love this Valentine's Day, the sad reality is that there are some fraudsters who are using online dating to steal your identity or scam you out of money.

In fact, romance fraud is becoming one of the most common ways people are conned out of money, but embarrassment means many of these crimes go unreported.

But Surrey and Buckinghamshire Trading Standards service has given some common sense precautions which might help you to find the love of your life rather than a love rat.

  • Pick a reputable dating website and use the site's messaging service. Fraudsters want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there's no evidence of them asking you for money.
  • Take time to check the person is genuine. You can do this by putting their name and some terms like 'catfish' 'romance scam' into a search engine.
  • Ask a lot of questions, so you get to know the person and not their profile. But avoid giving away too many personal details. Revealing your full name, date of birth and home address may lead to your identity being stolen.
  • Never send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you've only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.

If you become a victim of romance fraud, don't be embarrassed but report it immediately using the police's Action Fraud website or call 0300 123 2040, and to the dating site where you met the perpetrator. Report any assaults to the police.

And before meeting someone for the first time, tell a friend or family member where you will be, keep your mobile handy and don't be afraid to leave if you aren't comfortable. 'Ask Angela' is a common help phrase used in pubs to alert staff that you don't feel safe have a look on Wikipedia for Ask for Angela for more details.

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