INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — If you're thinking of trying an online dating app to find love this Valentine's Day, it's important to make sure you're doing it safely. One of the big factors you should be checking is each app's privacy settings.
When it comes to services like Match.com, you can share pictures and information about your location, marital status, children and your job. But the good news is you get to choose what you share. The app has gotten some complaints for its "blocking" feature, according to bestcompany.com. Match.com only blocks communication and anyone you choose to block can still look at your profile.
For other apps like Tinder and Bumble, be wary of linking your Facebook account. If you do that, you're sharing the data from your Facebook account with those apps. Tinder can also access information about you from certain other dating services you've used, like Match or OkCupid. Tinder also lets other third-party companies, like advertisers, access the information you give them.
When it comes to what information you're sharing with people you meet online, there are some safety concerns there, too. Before signing up for a dating website, consider Googling yourself. Then you'll know what information is already out there for people to see. Don't give out your last name until after meeting someone in person. Try to avoid using Facebook or Instagram pictures. Strangers can use those pictures to run a Google Image Search and view other online accounts you have.
Once you find the app you want to use and find someone you want to meet, consider going to a public place for an added layer of safety. Have an emergency exit plan if things don't go well, and make sure family or friends know the time and location of your date. You may also want to consider setting "check-in" times with your family so they know you're okay.
Finally, be extremely on guard when asked for money or gifts.
A Brown County widow thought she was texting a man she eventually wanted to meet. He said he was "crazy" about her and soon he'd be able to tell her that while "looking in her eyes." But red flags went up about his true identity when he asked her to send him two computers while he was traveling overseas.
She called 13 Investigates when that happened, but many people fall for it. Online dating scams have cost some people thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The number reports from people losing money to online dating scams has spiked in the last few years. Investigators know there are many victims out there who don't ever report their losses to authorities.
In Indiana alone, in just the first month of 2019, the Indiana Attorney General has received complaints of losing $137,500.
Nationally, online daters report losing $220 million dollars to scammers in 2016. Reports to the FBI have tripled over five years.