DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- If the prospect of Valentine's Day has you looking for love online, you're not alone. According to Match.com®, the dating site typically sees a 25 to 30 percent increase in new member registrations between December 26 and February 14.1 While more members means increased possibilities for finding the one you love, it also means you need to be more wary of potential scams.
"For many, the rules of playing it safe online are common sense," says Ann Cosimano, General Counsel for ARAG®, a global provider of legal solutions. Cosimano, who met her husband on Match, adds, "Most people can trust their gut, and if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is." When you're using an online dating site, consider following these top ways to stay safe.
Secondly, once you've met someone online, find out more about them from other sources online. Search engines and online checks are available. Even some basic fact-checking can help. If someone tells you they own their own business or has run several marathons, you should be able to find information online to verify those stories. Some states also offer free online public searches of court records.
Regardless of what type of site you're on, always keep private information private. This includes names of family and friends, and your personal address and phone number. You may want to create a separate email with a name that reflects a hobby or interest – but doesn't contain your real first and last names.
Finally, never send money to someone you've met online. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), any love interest that asks for money – for any reason – is most likely a scam artist.2
If you believe you're being scammed, follow the dating website's directions for reporting fraudulent behavior. You can also file a complaint on the FTC's website, as well as with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and your state's Attorney General. If the situation has escalated and you have lost money or feel that you are in physical danger, file a report with your police department.
An additional safeguard for your future is to check into legal insurance, generally available as a worksite benefit. Comprehensive legal plans, such as those offered by ARAG, provide members with educational resources to prevent fraud and identity theft, along with access to specialists trained to prevent and resolve online security issues.
ARAG (www.ARAGgroup.com), whose North American operations are based in Des Moines, IA, is a global provider of legal solutions. The company has an international premium base of almost $2 billion and it protects 15.5 million individuals and their families – worldwide. ARAG offers comprehensive legal plans that provide a smart and trusted path for resolving legal issues. This enables people to protect their families, finances and futures.
1 Golijan, Rosa. "Looking for Love in the New Year? Online Dating Peaks in January." DigitalLife.Today.Com. January 4, 2013. http://digitallife.today.com/_news/2013/01/04/16347129-looking-for-love-in-the-new-year-online-dating-peaks-in-january?lite
2 "Online Dating Scams." Federal Trade Commission http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0004-online-dating-scams