The FBI has published information aimed at helping people to build a digital defense against potential dangers in popular dating apps.
An estimated one in three American adults have used online platforms or mobile apps to look for love. There are lots of app options out there — seemingly something for everyone. The important thing, though, is to keep your “cyber self” secure.
Consider these two concerns: you are putting a lot of personal information out there for the world to see, and you are giving the dating company a lot of personal information that it can sell or share. Even if you are careful about what you post on other social media platforms, you are likely to tell your dating app quite a bit of info you wouldn’t usually share — everything from your lifestyle preferences to personal likes to work history. Also on the list: details about your bio, education, hobbies and passions.
Beyond the info you share, the dating app may request or require that it access your social media platforms and photos for verification. You have to decide how far you are willing to go in this quest for love.
If you are thinking about using a dating app or website, here are some ways to protect yourself:
• Keep your app updated and check the privacy settings with each update to make sure you have selected the most restrictive privacy settings.
• Allow push notifications, if offered, so you can better keep track of who is accessing your profile.
• Thoroughly read the terms and conditions — yes, that fine print — to ensure you know exactly what the company is doing with your information.
• Don’t use your last name when setting up your profile. Either use your first name and last initial or just initials.
• Don’t list your specific place of work.
• Don’t use the same username or profile picture across various public accounts.
• Don’t list your real date of birth. Consider using your real birth year, but pick a different date.
• Do use the site’s chat feature instead of giving your phone number or email.
• Consider using a paid account as you may have more control over who sees your information and what information is public.
If you have fallen victim to dating app exploitation or any other online fraud, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.