By Mark Fetterhoff
Online dating sites and social media platforms have become one of the most popular ways for people of all ages to meet friends, significant others and spouses. While most people have good intentions when meeting others online, scammers have also been known to use dating sites, social media sites and apps (ex. Facebook, Instagram, Words with Friends, etc.) to obtain money, gifts or personal information.
When meeting people online, it is important that you always consider the possibility that the person you are chatting with is not the person they claim to be. The following are some “red flags” to help determine if the person who you are chatting with is a scammer:
- You are asked to send money, purchase gift cards, send goods (ex. a phone or computer) or even open a bank account before meeting in person.
- They are contacting you from thousands of miles away, have inconsistent information in their profile and/or they have an unrealistic photo.
- You are asked to move the conversation outside of the dating website to phone, text, email or instant messenger.
- They ask you for personal information such as your credit card numbers or Social Security number.
- They express strong emotions toward you very early in your conversations.
If you recognize any of these warning signs or suspect unusual behavior, report it to the website’s administrator and cease all communication with the person immediately. If you have any questions contact an AARP ElderWatch volunteer for assistance. 1-800-222-4444, option 2.