What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than getting scammed? A date with Jack the Ripper perhaps? Hey, you don’t have to choose. It’s easy to be a victim of both. But ThreatMetrix™ has strategies to help you avoid becoming a victim of either.
Did you know Valentine’s Day is one of the top-spending holidays of the year? In fact the National Retail Federation projects spending this year will reach $17.3 billion with more than a quarter spent online.
“Around Valentine’s Day, consumers and retailers must take the same preventative measures as other peak shopping holidays including Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix. “Retailers must implement strategies to protect against malware attacks, account takeover and payment fraud. At the same time, consumers should only make purchases from legitimate e-commerce websites and refrain from using the same login information across websites.”
For a lot of people, the whole point of Valentine’s Day is making a special connection. So it’s no surprise the online dating industry rakes in $2 billion annually with 5.5 million active users in the U.S. Naturally, the huge number of people and big money involved has caught the attention of cybercriminals who’ve found sophisticated ways to compromise dating sites and bilk users of some $50 million per year.
Following are strategies to avoid becoming a casualty of love online. And they’re good to know for Valentine’s Day as well as the other 364 days:
• Be Wary of Red Flags in Dating Profiles – Cybercriminals often create fake profiles to lure users into sharing personal information or wiring money. Red flags include a prospective date claiming to be an alumnus of an Ivy League school, yet he/she has poor grammar. Another warning sign is a dating match claiming to be located in another country, such as Nigeria, and asking the user to wire money for travel expenses.
• Download Mobile Apps From Legitimate Sources – Mobile dating revenue is projected to double over the next five years. With an ever increasing number of mobile dating applications, consumers should only download from official app stores to guard against cybercriminals compromising personal information or downloading malware onto mobile devices.
• Use Caution with Location-Based Mobile Apps – Many of today’s mobile dating apps are location-based by city or state. Sharing your location offers cybercriminals one piece of the puzzle for compromising an identity. The more information (telephone number and email address) that’s shared the easier it is for a cybercriminal to compromise a user’s online identity.
• Evaluate Privacy Policies – Review the privacy policies for mobile apps and dating sites. Make sure data is encrypted to protect against breaches and isn’t being shared with third party sources for marketing or sales. Particularly concerning are apps that don’t encrypt information in transit. These can be intercepted on public Wi-Fi. Also, do a search to see if the dating site you’re thinking about using has previously had cybercrime issues.
“In the online dating world, nobody knows whether they are talking to Prince Charming or a ‘prince’ from a Nigerian dating scam,” said Faulkner. “Consumers must prioritize online security and privacy to protect their identities. In addition, consumers should not be hesitant to report a red flag or scam, which will help dating websites assure such instances will not happen again.”
When it comes to online dating, it’s up to consumers to exercise caution and common sense. For their part, companies, which want to ensure their websites and apps are safe while delivering an enjoyable user experience, should implement frictionless two-factor and context-based authentication for detecting suspicious access attempts without hassling the user.