Your Online Safety: It’s important to us

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Just like the Internet, fraud tactics evolve over time. There was a time when con artists used cheesy photos of models from magazines, had perfect profiles and basically seemed too good to be true. Unfrotunately their tactics have improved, here is a list of some of the “new and improved” ways con artists are trying to get your attention.

1.       They look like average people

Con artists now use very average photos in their profiles. They may steal Facebook photos or photos from the many blogs and social network pages we all have.  They may even be impersonating someone of the opposite gender.  It is no longer easy to tell if someone is likely a scammer based solely on their photos. While photos are important, don’t put complete stock in them.

2.       They’re more subtle than ever

Someone you’re dating is not likely to ask for your bank account number, but you may end up in a conversation where your date asks what high school you went to, or where you were born, or your first pet’s name. They aren’t going to blurt it out in an odd way. They may talk about themselves and talk about their first dog, and ask, “Did you have a pet when you were a kid?” It’s going to sound natural because, as we said, obvious con artists are out of the game quickly. This kind of information is perfect for logging into banking sites, and if you’ve been emailing back and forth with that person, they have all the information they need to access your accounts.  Be on guard and don’t reveal too many personal details to someone you’re just getting to know.

3.       They’re no longer in a hurry

One of the hallmarks of fraud used to be the big rush – pushing to get to know you really quickly. Today’s con men take their time. They may invest in hundreds of IM’s, emails, and calls. They may see you in person many times. They know that time puts people at ease. Many victims of fraud have cited “all our time together” as the reason they were willing to hand over personal information and money. Don’t let your guard down, no matter how well you think your relationship is progressing.

4.       They ‘get’ social media

“I Googled her and she had a LinkedIn account and a Facebook account, so I thought she was legit.” Yes, con men and women have learnt about social media. They know that people are vetting them in the social spaces and have responded accordingly. If you find that a new romantic interest has a history on these services, it isn’t a guarantee against fraud. Watch out for the warning signs and don’t become complacent just because you found other information online.

5.       They’re excellent Phishermen

“Phishing” is the act of securing private information by appearing to be a trusted source and sending links that download personal information or install a damaging virus. A con artist will send you an email with a link and write, “Watch this video. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.” One click of the link and passwords, credit card numbers and other personal data can be removed from your computer. This email can be sent on a site like Facebook, in your personal email, or within eHarmony’s internal email system.   Know what you’re clicking on before you click.

6.       They get you to do the strangest things

It seems hard to believe, but many acts of fraud have been committed because a con artist has persuaded a user to let him/her log into their account. This usually happens after the con man and his victim have been in communication for a considerable period of time, and a certain amount of trust has been established. One of the favourite tactics is to send a message saying, “I want you to see what I wrote in my profile. If you click on this link, it will take you to it, but you may have to log in first.” Sometimes, a con man will simply say, “I’ve been hurt so many times in the past. Can I log into your account and make sure that you’ve turned off your matching?”  Never give your log-in credentials to anyone.  If they exhibit signs of trust issues, perhaps it’s better to pursue a relationship with someone else.
We know these warnings seem scary, but we’ve found that the best way to prevent con artists from succeeding is to keep our users fully informed of their tactics. For all their complex schemes con men are completely dependent upon your cooperation. At some point, you have to give them access, information, or money before they can commit their fraudulent activities.

Follow these three rules to protect yourself from Internet fraud;
1.       A person who asks for money is almost certainly a con artist
2.       A person who asks for access to your online accounts is almost certainly a con artist
3.       A person who asks specific personal questions about where you bank, your address, pet’s names, school names, etc. is almost certainly a con artist

eHarmony is constantly working to prevent any of our users from being scammed. We have an entire team here dedicated to nothing but preventing the fraud that is common on the web.

But, it’s a two-way street.  Should you encounter any suspicious behaviour from one of your matches, send an email to matchconcerns@eharmony.com so we can investigate it, and to scamwatch.gov.au – you may be helping not only yourself, but possibly others too.

 


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