If you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day it pays to be vigilant when engaging with strangers online.
Australians lost almost $10 million to romance scams in February last year, the highest of any month. Overall more than $24.3 million was lost to romance scammers in 2016.*
Most romance scams are carried out via the internet, social networking sites as well as email.
Scammers groom people into trusting them, and eventually ask for money to help with a personal problem, such as some misfortune or a sick relative. The scammer may communicate with a person for months before asking for money.
Follow these tips to help you stay safe from romance scams:
- Be aware that scammers are prevalent online.
- Be especially wary of anyone who asks you for money. Never transfer money via direct deposit, money order or international transfer.
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. This can help you identify if the image has been taken from someone else, or it belongs to a few people with different names. You can do this through Google images by clicking on the camera icon on the desktop version of the site’s search bar.
- Be careful about the amount of personal information you share. Avoid sharing compromising material, which scammers can use to blackmail you.
- If you agree to meet someone in person, make sure you let your family and friends know where you will be going, and meet somewhere in a public place like a café.
*Data from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch service.
For more information visit Scamwatch