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Online Dating Scams: Top 5 Ways to Protect Yourself

How do you protect yourself from online dating scams?

The MTV show "Catfish" has recently drawn attention to these scams. Many are concerned about how real the person on the other end of their Internet interaction is, and whether they may have ulterior motives.

The term "catfishing" is used to describe the creation of a fake online profile to lure unsuspecting friends, and in some cases, lovers, Slate reports.

While the events on the show "Catfish" may seem harmless, there are some scary stories out there of online dating scams, with women and even men as the victims. Just this week, police in South Bend, Indiana, reported some dangerous encounters in which men were lured to meet women in person, after falling for fake online profiles. Instead of meeting the women face-to-face, some of the men were robbed, WSBT-TV reports.

So, if you're dating online, how do you protect yourself from ending up a victim of an online dating scam? Here are 5 tips that may help:

  1. Look up the person's name. If someone gives you their name, it's very easy to run an Internet search. Do some digging and see what information you can dig up on the person.

  2. Perform searches on their photos. If you've seen the show "Catfish," you've seen how they verify someone's photo. It's really very easy: All you need to do is go to Google Images and run an image search. You then drag the person's profile photo to the image search box and see what comes up.

  3. Ask to chat via video first. There's no harm in asking to video chat. And there are so many ways to do it, too. You can use Skype, FaceTime, or Google Chat. But there's a lot of potential harm in not video-chatting.

  4. Meet in a pubic place. You might find yourself in more trouble if you go to someone's house, or meet in a poorly lit area. Instead, suggest meeting up at a public place like a coffee shop. Also, it's wise to let a close friend or family member know where you are going.

  5. Don't disclose financial information. Be very guarded about giving anyone financial information or any other personal information. That's a big red flag that you may have stumbled across an online dating scam.

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