Defending Against Online Romance Scams

Online romance scams involve individuals creating fake identities to exploit emotions and trust, often leading victims to send money or share personal information. These scammers use fake background stories and stolen photos to establish connections with people. Preying on the desire for companionship and love. Once a victim’s trust is gained, they manipulate them into providing financial assistance under false pretenses, such as made-up emergencies or financial hardships.

Recognizing the signs of an online romance scam is crucial for protecting oneself. Here are a few common tells that someone may be scamming:

  • Love Bombing: If someone declares love or affection too quickly or intensely online, it may be a tactic to gain trust rapidly.
  • Avoiding Face-to-Face Interactions: Scammers often avoid in-person meetings to conceal their identity.
  • Requests for Financial Assistance: Be wary of individuals who ask for money or gifts, especially if they claim to be in urgent need due to unforeseen circumstances.

Implementing proactive measures to prevent against online romance scams is just as essential as being able to recognize the scams. A few tips to help avoid online romance scams are:

  • Verify Identities: Research individual’s photos and profile using online search tools to see if their details have been used anywhere else, before establishing a connection.
  • Protect Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive details online. Be careful what you post and the information about yourself that you make public online, as scammers will use these details to better understand and target you.
  • Stay Alert: Go slowly and ask a lot of questions. Beware if the individual quickly asks you to communicate directly. They may be trying to isolate you from friends and family, in efforts to request sensitive information to later extort you.
  • Never Share Online Banking Credentials: Sharing your Online Banking credentials with anyone is not a valid way to send or receive money.  

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to an online romance scam, these next tips are your best move:

  • Cease Communication: Immediately stop all communication with the scammer to prevent any further manipulation. Change your Online Banking credentials, debit cards and account number.
  • Report the Incident: Notify authorities, such as the dating app or social media you were using, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and BMI Federal Credit Union to seek assistance and prevent further loss.
  • Monitor Financial Accounts: If sensitive information was shared, regularly monitor bank accounts for unauthorized transactions.

Online romance scams are deceptive and can have devastating consequences, but by understanding that genuine relationships don’t involve requests for financial assistance from online friends can help reduce the risk of falling victim. Be mindful of red flags and maintain a healthy level of skepticism when interacting with individuals online. Remember, it’s okay to question anything that seems too good to be true or raises doubts. BMI FCU is here to support our members in protecting their financial and emotional well-being.

Please visit _theft_resource_center.html for more information on protecting your personal information.

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(June 2024)