Press Releases

Avoid more than heartbreak this Valentine’s Day as Romance Scams are set to rise

As Valentine’s Day approaches and online dating sees a surge in popularity, love is not always in the air. Sadly, this time of year also comes with an increase in online romance scams.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, Equifax has seen a huge 767% surge in online impressions for its tips on spotting romance scams. Meanwhile, data from UK Finance reveals that nearly 40% of people looking for love online have been asked for money. 

Phillip Davies, Chief Information Security Officer for Europe at Equifax, said: “Romance scams are cruel, but unfortunately a common way for fraudsters to cash in, especially around Valentine’s Day when more people are looking for love online. Scammers can be increasingly convincing, which can make fake profiles harder to identify and can leave victims both emotionally and financially drained. Therefore, when using dating apps, it’s important users always approach with a level of caution.”

Equifax UK has shared some top tips to protect online daters from falling foul to fraudsters this
Valentine’s Day.

● Keep communication on trusted dating websites:

Fraudsters will try to convince you to communicate via social media or text messaging to avoid
being caught asking for money or personal information. If the dating website or platform has no
proof of a potential fraud, it will be difficult to report or retrieve personal information. Until you
are certain they are genuine, stick to communicating on a trusted dating website to avoid being
caught out.

● Scammers like to get personal:

Fraudsters tend to direct personal questions at you whilst avoiding it themselves to make it
seem like they’re establishing a bond quickly. Sharing your contact details such as your phone
number, email or home address could put you at risk. Be careful not to include personal
information such as your location or date of birth, within your username or profile.

● Think carefully before using your webcam:

Be careful when using your webcam with a new online love interest, even if it’s someone whom
you think you know. The footage could be used against you. This applies to cameras on all
devices, from computers and laptops to smartphones and tablets.

● Don’t buy love: 

Do not send or receive money from anyone you’ve met online, no matter how convincing their
story is. This also applies to your bank account, credit card or other financial details. If the
request is coming from someone you think you know, check with them offline to ensure that it’s
really them. If you are looking to recover money, it’s important to contact your bank and Action
Fraud which may lead to a criminal investigation. It’s worth remembering that it’s not always
possible to get a refund.

● Trust your instincts:

It’s important to not ignore that ‘gut’ feeling you have about a potential interest. If they make
excuses for meeting up in person or their profile picture belongs to someone else, trust your
instincts to make the right decision before communicating further. If you decide to meet in
person, it’s important to stay safe and never hand over any cash. If you are unsure, perform a
reverse image search of their profile photo and it seems to belong to someone else. Always
remember to stop, challenge, protect and visit the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign website for
more information.