In the News

Researching Dates Can Prevent a Romance Scam

SpokeoValentinesInfographic

Romance scams have been in the news lately from singles who are members of online dating sites and social networking sites. Every time I hear one of these stories, it breaks my heart. With Valentine’s Day putting extra pressure on dating, it’s extremely important to make sure that singles are doing their research when looking for a date, whether online or offline.

Know that online dating safety is of the highest importance here at Cyber-Dating Expert.

As a result, I’ve become a Spokesperson for Spokeo, an online search service which provides publicly available data to help you research your dates.

New research provided by Spokeo and Harris Interactive was just released which shows that 71% of Americans are willing to conduct some kind of informational search about the person they are dating. This tells me that singles are taking dating safety very seriously.

Here are 7 tips to help avoid being a victim of a romance scam.

1. If your date’s photos are either blurry or look like they are from a stock photo gallery, or look model-like or too good to be true, it’s time to do some digging.

2. Those involved in perpetrating a romance scam want to take the conversation off the dating site quickly and onto a private chat or instant messenger service. This avoids having the conversations documented or traceable by the dating site?s software. Until you’re sure about your date, keep the conversations on the dating site.

3. If he or she says they’re in love with you very quickly, don’t jump for joy just yet. Romance scammers often will say they’ve never felt this way before about anyone before and they’ve waited their whole life to meet you. Their grammar often isn’t correct and they have an accent if you speak to them on the phone.

4. If he or she lives out of town or out of the country, find out where they really live. If their efforts to visit you get repeatedly canceled due to a work or family emergency, you should be raising a digital eyebrow.

5. If your potential date has a work or family emergency and asks you to wire them money, don’t fall for it. It’s likely they’ll say if you really love them, you’ll help them out and they’ll pay you back quickly. Often the excuse is their funds are temporarily tied up. Don’t fall for it.

6. Make sure to look up the data that you have on someone you’re dating. This can be easily done by plugging the information you have into an online search engine to see if what you find online matches up with what the other person is claiming. Sites like Google and Spokeo can be very informative to research your date.

7. If any of these things happen to you, never ever send money. Do not sent money via Western Union or a foreign bank. Report the profile in question to the dating site and understand that you’re one of many that this person is writing to try try to sweep you off your feet and promise you a life of love and happiness.

Know that you can do a simple search of your potential date’s email address, phone number, or even user name by going to Spokeo.com.

Happy safe dating this Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy the Infographic below and feel free to share this with all of your single friends.

Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.Julie Spira is an online dating expert and was an early adopter of Internet dating. She creates Irresistible Profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more online dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Weekly Flirt newsletter.

Disclaimer: Cyber-Dating Expert is a paid Spokesperson for Spokeo

business of love dating and safety

35% of Americans Willing to Pay for Dating Research in Order to Feel Safer – An infographic by the team at Spokeo People Search

Online Dating and Catfishing – Safety First

online dating 101 1 200x300As Season Two of MTV’s Catfish is now underway, it’s likely that you may think that online dating is a little “off.” Hopefully this article and these statistics will change your mind.

Of more than 19,000 couples who married between 2005 and 2012, 35 percent originally met online, according to a study conducted by the market research firm IBISWorld (and funded by eHarmony). The research found that couples who met online were less likely to divorce and experienced higher levels of marital satisfaction.

With those types of statistics and the overall grim nature of dating, why not take a chance to meet the love of your life on the Internet? We know first-time online daters may be skeptical. Keep a positive attitude and be prepared to face any of these online dating risks:

Exaggerated Online Identities

For some people, online dating websites are spaces to set the past right again and erase relationship mistakes. It’s a space where people want to appear as perfect as possible, from a Photoshopped portrait to a falsely crafted profile. Unfortunately, the disparity between an online dater’s perfect self and the real self is often so gaping that in-person dates can be disastrous, as you can read from some of our Peril of the Week stories or in my bestselling book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. Whether or not someone will live up to who they seem to be online is a gamble. Prepare yourself to take that chance and never let disappointment shatter your spirit.

Catfishing Victim

“Catfishing” is the act of creating a completely fictitious online persona (often via Facebook) to mislead or defraud others, according to LifeLock. It’s easy to get tricked into believing catfish are real, as they go to great lengths to develop fake profiles, including those with more than 300 friends and photographs to make it look real. Facebook photographs can easily be stolen from accounts of real people and falsely used on a catfish’s faux Facebook profile. To combat this:

  • Do a Google search on Facebook for photos, which could easily be stolen from others’ profiles
  • Do the same with a few distinctive phrases in the person’s profile bio. Perpetrators often have duplicate or near-duplicate profiles on multiple sites, each with a different picture or location
  • Fraud and identity theft aren’t the norm, but they happen. Limit how much personal information you share until you know you can trust your potential date.

Impossible Expectations

With so many dating sites and pages upon pages of singles’ profiles, it’s easy to maintain high standards and keep a mentality that, “someone better may be out there.” You should never have to settle for someone with whom you don’t have a connection, but focusing on trivial aspects of a person’s profile or appearance will only hinder your quest to find the one. Know your deal breakers?while keeping an open mind.

Also, understand that many online daters become addicted to the process and accustomed to easily disposing of people they’ve met. Make it a point not to take rejections personally. You can’t let your self-worth and confidence break down because of strangers over the Internet.

A Proper Profile

Have a friend or family member whom you can trust to look over your profile or allow us to create your Irresistible Profile to help you attract your dream date and to ensure that it accurately represents who you are. Honesty is the best policy, especially in regards to photos.Oprah.com’s “Tips for Successful Online Dating” recommends that online daters keep pictures “recent and real.” Posted pictures should be taken within the last six months and include both a headshot and full-body shot. Also, avoid pictures with props and try not to post pictures taken with other people.

At Cyber-Dating Expert, we believe in authenticity from the onset and wish you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.

Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and was an early adopter of online dating. She’s the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating and coaches singles on the dating scene. For more online dating advice,? follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Weekly Flirt newsletter.

Should You Become a Cyber-Sleuth? Julie Spira on Dr. Drew

Finding love online happens for many millions of singles.

Being a safe online dater is something everyone needs to know.

On a recent episode of Dr. Drew on HLN, I gave my tips on how to become a cyber-sleuth so you can date safely on the Internet.

1. Remember to meet in a public place.

2. Tell your friends the screen name of your date and what site you’ve met them on.

3. Call or text your friend to let them know you’re fine during your date.

4. Make Google your friend and type in your date’s email address, phone number

5. Check Facebook to see if your date’s photos match their online dating profile photos. See if you have friends in common.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing more powerful than trusting your intuition. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, leave. If your date continues to bother you after you’ve decided not to see them again, report them to the online dating site.

Know that millions of singles are falling in love every day from online dating sites.

Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. More more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter, sign up for the free Weekly Flirt, and ?join us on Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert

Lessons learned from the Manti Te’o Hoax

On Thursday, Manti Te’o will share his personal and painful story about the love hoax on Katie Couric’s talk show, Katie and all eyes will be watching.

Whether you’re a celebrity or the boy or girl next door, when matters of the heart are involved, it’s not uncommon to get lured in by a romantic pursuer on the Internet.

This most certainly doesn’t mean that all online daters are insincere, but the Notre Dame football star’s story will create more awareness about the digital courting process.

Spending time in chat rooms, Gchat, or Facebook chat provides an immediate connection with someone, who after a certain period of time, you may find yourself start to share personal information and intimate details with.

The next thing you know, you have that euphoric feeling that someone is in your digital corner. In other words, you now have a “digital pen pal,” not a real girlfriend or boyfriend. You want to share your exciting news with your friends, but if you online crush isn’t who he or she says they are, you’ll feel embarrassed and shame will kick in. You won’t want your friends to know you’ve been duped.

So before you start changing your Facebook status to ‘In a Relationship,’ look for these 7 signs that I shared with Men’s Health.

  1. Your online crush is quick to say, “I love you.”
  2. Your chats only take place late at night, when everyone else is asleep.
  3. Your new love won’t hop on a Skype call or video chat.
  4. The photos seem too good to be real.
  5. Multiple excuses prevent you from meeting in person.
  6. Your digital pen pal asks for money.
  7. Your new love is from another country.

Understand that the fantasy of the perfect person is so elevated, that you truly do believe you’ve met ‘the one.’ If this is the case, I recommend the following steps:

  1. Check their Facebook profile to see if the photos match up and if you have friends in common.
  2. Do a reverse phone number check by typing in their phone numbers in a Google search.
  3. Type in their email address in a Google search to see if they’ve created a digital footprint anywhere.
  4. Use photo recognition software such as TinEye.com where you can upload their photo and see if it appears anywhere else on the Internet.
  5. Do an in-depth background search from a site such as Intelius.

While these tips may provide information on your new digital love, not all of the data is available on the Internet. Let a close friend know you may be suspicious of your date and see if they can help solve the mystery. In many cases, as in this one, the person duping you may have a history of doing this to others as well.

Trust your intuition. Even Manti Te’o had his doubts about Lennay Kekua.

For more online dating safety tips, visit http://cyberdatingexpert.com/category/safety

For a timeline on the Mant Te’o hoax story, visit ABC News.

Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert. Sign up for the Weekly Flirt e-newsletter for more dating advice.

Why I Use Google Voice for Dating

Online dating safety is important for singles looking for love on the Internet. We all want to find love, and usually the sooner, the better. What if you could have one phone number devoted exclusively to dating? Would you be more likely to be handing out your calling card?

If you?re hesitant to give out your home or cell phone number to someone who you?ve only corresponded via email with, you should be right. But there are several options to maintain your privacy while still scheduling dates on your calendar.

For my dating coaching clients, I often recommend that they sign up for a Google Voice account. Using Google Voice is free and is simple to use.

To get started, visit Google.com/voice to set up your account.? The simplest way is to link your cell phone number so you can receive calls while you?re out and about. You?ll have the opportunity to select a custom phone number from several choices. Go ahead and reserve one for dating purposes. Take it one step further and order a social calling card with your new unique dating phone number on it.

Once you select your phone number, you?ll have the opportunity to record your name. I suggest using just your first name. Let him hear your voice and know you aren?t just a voicemail service.

You should record an outgoing greeting as well. Google will magically call your cell phone number and allow you to record your message. The good news is your inbound messages can be transcribed to you and received via text. If you?d like to screen your calls, Google voice provides this service as well. ?I advise singles to have this deactivated, as it could be a deterrent to having someone actually complete the call and leave you a message. You can always turn it on at a future time.

Do you only want to receive calls from your dates during specific times? No problem. Google voice lets you control weekday and weekend calls as well as the times you?d like your phone to ring. Otherwise, the messages will go to your Google voicemail box.

Still confused? Contact us at CyberDatingExpert.com/contact and we?d be happy to help you date safely on the Web.

If you get a moment, we’d love it if you’d Like us at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert

The Perils of CyberDating and Online Dating Background Checks

cyber dating headshot1 150x150At least once a month I am contacted by someone in the media to talk about online dating safety. It’s a hot-button for me and I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that singles are safely looking for love online.

Over the weekend, The New York Times posted an article about the latest background check services available for online daters. The piece, written by Stephanie Rosenbloom, New Online-Date Detectives Can Unmask Mr. or Ms. Wrong, discussed a variety of services have popped up on the Internet to check out your date before you mate, or even before you click reply to his or her latest email.

Sites such as MyMatchChecker.com, ValiMate, Date Check make it easier to check out your date during the courting stages. One should realize that these services are not limited to online dating. You should use the same common sense methods for offline dating. The bottom line is, you should trust your intuition and take your time.

Still, the question is being asked of me on Twitter daily since the Times piece and subsequent follow up article on Forbes.com, The Perils of Online Dating and Talking About Broken Marriages with the New York Times posted by Kashmir Hill.

There’s a reason my book is titled, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. As a smart woman and successful Internet executive during the dotcom days, I was too busy to check out the man I married and later divorced. Had I done a background check on him, I would not have married him. It was time to turn lemons into lemonade and pay it forward.

So here is my take on To Check, or Not to Check your date out thoroughly in advance.

1. Do a simple Google search, but don’t discuss it on your first date.

2. Use your intuition and see if his or her stories add up. Do they work where they say they do? Do the communications via email and phone match up to who you believe you are scheduled to meet? If not, take a pass. There will always be another email in your inbox.

3. Go ahead and search if you must, but remember, not all of the information is always accurate.

4. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Everyone is bound to have something that doesn’t check out well. Perhaps he or she has bad credit due to the economy or a recent divorce. There’s no need to toss them out just yet if that is the case, but if you see a series of lawsuits piled up under his or her name, you might have reason to be concerned.

More women are in favor of doing a background check in advance of a first date to make sure he isn’t “Married,” or “Separated, Divorce Pending.” Finding out your date is a felon is something you must know, but worrying that each date could be with a felon will actually be counter-productive to your dating process.

Most men are worrying that the woman won’t look like her photos. Yes, men are visual. It’s at the top of their list.

As far as online dating sites being required to have a background search on each member, I am in favor of them providing the option for each member to do a background search from an outside company. My big concern is that if the information isn’t accurate, someone will blame the Internet dating site and more lawsuits will arise. I do believe each site should have an advice section on online dating safety. Whether commonsense or not, when it comes to matters of the heart, all bets are usually off when love and chemistry are involved. Better safe, than sorry.

I have contributed to the following online dating safety articles to help you feel safe at home, or at least on that first date. Feel free to read and comment.

ABC News – Should Online Dating Sites Be Required to Do Background Checks?

CBS News – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day

CNET – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day–Safely

Cyber-Dating Expert – 5 Online Dating Safety Tips

Cyber-Dating Expert - Tyra Banks on Online Dating

Cyber-Dating Expert – Cyberdating Safety Tips

eHow – Cyber Dating Safety

Examiner – How Safe is Your Date?

FOX News – Cyber Dating Safety

Genconnect TV – Online Dating Safety Tips (Vide0)

Huffington Post – Online Dater Convicted of Assault

Huffington Post - To Sext, or Not to Sext

John Tesh - Criminals Could Be on the Dating Websites You Join

PC World – How to Scope Someone Out Online

Sympatico.ca – How to Spot a Cyber Player

Sympatico.ca – Protect Yourself Against Cyber Dating Scams

The Smart and Pretty – The Perils of Cyber-Dating and How to Avoid Them

WPIX – Cyberdating Safety (Video)

Your Tango – 7 Signs He’s Dating You For Your Money

Cyber-Dating Safety Tips

safetytips 150x150Along with the joys of cyber-dating, it is important for singles to use caution and be aware of keeping your identity safe.?Paul Falzone, CEO of The Right One/Together Dating Service offers terrific advice for practicing safe surfing while Looking for Love Online.?

According to Falzone, there are many whose desire for romance will lead them to pick up the equivalent of hitchhikers online.?Instant messaging, chat rooms and online personal ads have become an unavoidable part of the online experience, but who knows who might be on the other side of the keyboard?

?Keeping yourself and your identity safe when you?re looking for love online is challenging, but, not impossible,??adds?Falzone. And he should know as the head of the largest brick-and-mortar dating service in the world.

?For every good-hearted man or woman looking for love, there is a dangerous line-up of shady characters that includes con men, liars and the most violent of criminals. Give out too much information, or even a little, as you chat and you may find yourself a victim of a cyber stalker, harassment, identity theft or worse,??said Falzone.

In light of some recent tragedies of online dating gone wrong and the significant rise in identity theft, Falzone offers 10 ?key cyber-dating safety tips with terrific advice on how to avoid online harassment and cyber stalking as well as compromised personal information:??

1? ?Do not fill out online profiles for free e-mail accounts that you may use when chatting or instant messaging. Even ? the most seemingly innocuous piece of information, when coupled with the personal information that may slip out in conversation can be used to pry into your personal life.

2???Be aware that an abundance of personal information can be harvested through both free and paid Web sites. Be very leery of any additional information you may post on a personal homepage or social network sites such as MySpace, Facebook and others.

3. ?Avoid using screen names that reveal your identity or location.

4???Be sure to protect your computer and your personal information by installing and keeping computer security software up-to-date to deter online thieves.

5???Don’t respond to, and block, any annoying, threatening or harassing e-mail.

6???When mail or phone contact is necessary, such as when using auction sites, try to use an office phone number and address or a postal box.

7????Be aware of any vague or inconsistent information that a correspondent provides.

8????Be skeptical of any photo they send that look too professional or ?too good to be true.? It may just be an image pulled from the Net.

9????If you become the victim of stalking or harassing behavior, don?t hesitate to report it to the legal authorities just as you would with such treatment offline. You may also be able to report such conduct to the offending parties Internet Service Provider.

10????Be familiar with online resources intended to educate the public about such online issues. These sites include www.cyberangels.org, www.haltabuse.org and www.childrenspartnership.org.

Whether you use an online dating or singles? service or even one of the ?brick and mortar? variety, ask questions to gauge how well they will protect and serve you. Do they conduct background checks? Are their safeguards to ensure that members are not married or have criminal records? Will they offer a guarantee? Are they in good standing with local business associations and the Attorney General?s office?

Falzone continued, ?There is no way to be completely safe or secure when using the Internet as a meeting place. But by being skeptical, and using your head as much as your heart, it is possible to have fun without attracting unnecessary danger.?

Now catering to more than 300,000 members at over 60 locations throughout North America, The Right One and Together Dating are the largest brick and mortar dating services in the industry. The Right One and Together Dating offer a more consistent product, a greater number of potentially compatible mates and added value of flexibility in transferring memberships to another geographic region.

For more information about The Right One and Together Dating, please visit their websites at www.therightone.com and www.togetherdating.com?