Avoiding Online Romance Scams Each year, tens of thousands of people fall victim to online romance scams, which can be incredibly convincing and are increasingly found across dating sites and social media. By appealing to victims’ emotions and feigning personal connections, scammers try to steal large sums of money and personal information. Luckily, there are ways to identify a scam and protect yourself online. Tips for Staying Safe Online Share with care. Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it might affect you or others. Consider creating an alternate persona that you use for online profiles to limit how much of your own personal information you share. Check your account settings. Consider setting your social media profiles to “private” to make it difficult for scammers to target and communicate with you. A public profile will make it easy for scammers to find your profile and learn about you through old posts and photos. Think before you act. Be wary of communications that push you for immediate action or ask for personal information. Never share personal information through email, especially if you do not know the sender. When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email, tweets, texts, posts, social media messages and online advertising are an easy way for cyber criminals to get to you. Be wary of clicking on links or downloading anything that comes from a stranger or that you were not expecting. Use reverse image search. If you are unsure if you are being scammed, do a reverse image search of the potential scammer’s profile picture. You might see that the image belongs to a completely different person or has been affiliated with different online identities. Look out for red flags. Scammers can be very convincing, however there are ways to identify a scammer, including but not limited to the following red flags: There is a request for money for urgent matters, such as medical expenses or a plane ticket. Never send money to someone you have not met in person. The person claims to live overseas or be in the military. The person professes love quickly. There’s pressure to move the conversation off the platform to a different site. Know what action to take. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, it is important to take the following steps: Cease communications with the scammer immediately. Take note of any identifiable information you might have on the scammer, such as their email address, IP address or other information in their full header. Contact your bank or credit card company if you think you’ve given money to a scammer. Report the scammer to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the website or app where you met the scammer. About This Page Content is provided by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect. public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the understanding of cyberthreats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. The campaign’s main objective is to help you become more aware of growing cyber threats and arm you with the tools to protect yourself, your family and your community. For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.