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Break up with online romance scams

February 11, 2021 / Source: CFPB

By Erin Scheithe – FEB 11, 2021

After months of social distancing and being apart from family and friends, it’s hard to resist connecting with new people. But scammers are taking advantage of this loneliness to trick people out of their money. If you or someone you know gets a message from a stranger on the internet, beware, because the person who messages you may not be who they say they are.

A romance scam is when a new love interest tricks you into falling for them when they really just want your money. Romance scams start in a few different ways, usually online. For example, you may receive a friend request, follower request, or direct message on social media, or maybe the connection happens on a dating app. Some romance scammers will even email or text you directly.

How to spot a romance scammer

Once the first connection is made, your new love interest usually seems like a perfect match. A romance scammer’s photos and profile may make it appear like they share your interests – but those photos and interests are most likely faked. Usually romance scammers spend time getting to know you and developing trust before they ask for a loan or access to your finances. They make up a tragic story or emergency reason for why they need the money – and promise to pay you back.

Avoid romance scams

Be smart about who you connect with and what information you share online. Here are some ways to help protect yourself, as well as your friends and family, from romance scams:

  • Don’t share personal information – like bank account or credit card numbers, or your Social Security number – with a new love connection.
  • If you ask a new love interest questions and they don’t give you straight answers or question why you’re asking, that could be a red flag.
  • Never send money, gift cards, or wire transfers to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
  • Limit what personal information you share online and on dating apps.
  • Consider making your social media profiles private.
  • Download our romance scam handout  and share with people in your community.
  • Report suspected romance scams to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov .

Learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams during the coronavirus pandemic, including tech support scams.

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