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All Rights ReservedCreate Account | Sign In BETAThis is a BETA experience. You may opt-out by clicking here Edit Story Editors' Pick| | Feb 13, 2020,09:30am EST Happy Valentine’s Day: How To Avoid The Perils Of Online Dating This February 14Davey WinderSenior Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. CybersecurityI report and analyse breaking cybersecurity and privacy stories Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin How to avoid the online perils of falling in love on Valentine's Day Getty I recently suggested that people should swipe left to find the perfect password relationship, but when it comes to actual online dating in Valentine's week, the urge to swipe right is stronger than ever. That, research would suggest, could be a very bad thing indeed. Not just as far as the course of true love goes, but bad for your bank account as well. Gone fishin’- catfishing that is A survey commissioned by UK Finance has revealed that a staggering 27% of people using online dating services admitted to having been "catfished" in the last 12 months. Men were found to be more likely than women to be victimized by those adopting a fake online persona. If that's not bad enough as Valentine's Day is almost upon us, 21% of people using an online dating service said that they had either been asked for money by someone they met online or had given money to them. Once again, men were more likely to be asked for money than women according to the data. On average, £321 exchanged hands or was requested, but the UK Finance data showed that a total of £7.9 million ($10.3 million) was taken by "romance scams" in just the first six months of 2019. That's up 50% from the same period in 2018. "Catfishers are excellent storytellers and can tell a compelling tale about why they need the money," Jake Moore, a cybersecurity expert at ESET, said. While Moore said that it is vital to "stay detached" when money is at stake, that's easier said than done when love enters the equation. "The key to staying safe when online dating is to carry out some basic online search on the person you are dating," Moore said, "such as reverse images searches or name-checks on social media." Recommended For You Apple iMessage Beaten By Brilliant New Android Messages TrickiOS 14: Here’s Why There’s An Orange Dot On Your iPhoneWhy You Should Quit Facebook’s New Messenger Update The UK Finance research shows 70% saying that they exchanged text or WhatsApp messages before meeting in real life, but only 54% performed any kind of social media search. That dropped to 22% who went the whole Google on a date before meeting up, although 49% did at least speak to the other person on the telephone first. "The popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious this Valentine’s," Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said, "although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too." FBI warns of online romance scams this Valentine’s Day The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) isn't unaware of the increased risk of what it calls "romance scams" on Valentine's Day and the days leading up to it. In an online posting dated February 3, the FBI Richmond field office warned people to be on the lookout for "well-rehearsed criminals" who "search dating sites, apps, chat rooms, and other social media networking sites attempting to build relationships for the sole purpose of getting your money or your personally identifiable information." The usual advice of being aware that scammers use dating sites, doing your research of photos and profiles, never providing financial information, and always arranging to meet in a public place having let someone know where you will be applies. If you think you may have been caught up in a romance scam, then file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center, which recently gave a powerful $3.5 billion cybercrime warning itself. Online creeping can escalate into illegal stalking Then there's the danger of online creeping to take into account. The NortonLifeLock "Online Creeping Survey" has revealed that some 46% of Americans admit to stalking a partner, current or ex, by checking in on them online without their knowledge or consent. Defined as the persistent or stealthy following of someone online, the concept of 'creeping' may sound benign. Indeed, it often starts that way but can escalate quickly into online harassment and cyber-stalking. The NortonLifeLock survey found the most common online stalking behaviors included checking a partner's phone and their online search history. Incredibly, one in ten Americans also went as far as to create a fake profile to infiltrate social media circles, and the same number used a spying app to monitor text messages, phone calls, emails and photo galleries. Men were far more likely, the research suggested, to participate in this kind of behavior than women, around 2.5 times more likely. "Trust is certainly a factor in the rise of stalkerware use," Jake Moore said, "many people have their spouse’s fingerprint on their device, which means that in many cases of stalking, gaining access to the device can be incredibly easy." Sure, this is more of a privacy issue than a security one, but the latter can help prevent the former by ensuring devices are locked down with non-guessable passwords, PINs and better yet biometrics. "Most phones will allow you to check which apps are able to track and log your location," Moore said, "so it can be quick and easy to monitor if there are any unwarranted apps on there." This is great advice at any time of year but could be especially apt with Valentine's Day bringing out the insecure worst in some folk. If you spot any apps you do not recognize or use, then delete them. Men are more vulnerable to online dating app threats Kaspersky has also been doing some research into Valentine's Day usage of dating apps and found that 29% of those asked increased their dating app usage at this time of year. Some 20% also admitted to having been scammed by someone they met online. Men, once again, tend to use more dating apps than women and are "more vulnerable to an increased threat of cyber-risks when online dating," according to the Kaspersky research. 37% of men surveyed used between three and five dating apps, whereas only 29% of women admitted to the same. The gap widened as far as dating app usage is concerned in the run-up top Valentine's Day: 31% of men sign -up to dating apps, compared to only 20% of women. David Emm, the principal security researcher at Kaspersky, said, "We urge those looking for love online to conduct their dating app-tivities safely and practice strong security hygiene. This includes protecting devices with up-to-date software. Otherwise, people could find themselves throwing away their long-term data security in the short-term pursuit of love." Follow me on  Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out  my website. Davey Winder I'm a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT…

     Read More I'm a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called 'Threats to the Internet.' In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

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