With Valentine's Day around the corner, many single people return to thoughts of finding love online. But while your head is in the online clouds, you should know (sorry to sound like a parent) that cyberscammers may be there with you, looking to take advantage of your vulnerable heart.
To help you stay safe on Valentine's Day and year-round, here is a look at some of the top romance scams and threats:
- Online Dating Scams. Millions of people use online dating sites to broaden their networks and meet potential mates, but not everyone on these sites is sincere; some are scammers hoping to lure you in with false affection. Their goal is to gain your trust and, eventually, your money.
- Love Exploits. These threats have you looking for love in all the wrong places, like dangerous websites designed to steal your information. One recent example of this is the Koobface worm, which targeted Match.com users by sending messages that appeared to be from other users, inviting them to look at photos and videos on a Match.com look-alike site. When users tried to log into the malicious site, it recorded their usernames and passwords and attempted to install a Trojan.
- Valentine's Day Spam and E-Cards. Scammers know that the holidays are the perfect time to send out themed messages and e-cards, knowing they will grab your attention. Spam messages with subject lines such as "The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift" may contain a link to a dangerous website that asks for personal information. Furthermore, a message that appears to be an e-card from a loved one could actually download malware on your machine when you click on the link, leaving you with an infection, rather than affection.
How to Stay Safe
- When signing up for online dating, go with a well-known site. Get referrals from friends on which sites they use.
- Design your dating profile with care. Think about the image you want to project, and never, under any circumstance, post personal information such as your full name, address and phone number.
- Vet potential dates by checking to see that their profile information matches other online information, such as their LinkedIn or Spokeo profile.
- If a potential date asks you for a loan or any financial information, immediately report them to the dating site.
- Never ever click on links in e-mails or e-cards from people you do not know. If you don't trust it, do not click it.
- To help protect you from malware, use a comprehensive security software, such as McAfee Total Protection, and keep it up-to-date
Robert Siciliano is a McAfee Consultant and Identity Theft Expert. Watch him discuss Safe Personal Dating on The Tyra Banks Show. Read: disclosures
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