Protect Yourself Online!
As we do our best to prevent and remove scammers, some do still get through. Here are some best practices recommended by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).
What is a dating scam?
On a dating website, a scammer is someone who builds a relationship with you, pretending to be a legitimate user of a dating website, and then uses fraudulent claims to defraud you. Scammers will ask you for money, personal or financial information, or try to redirect you to websites that require payment or download malicious software onto your computer.
Scams of this sort can be very sophisticated and scammers will go to great lengths to build a relationship with you, spending a lot of time communicating with you and perhaps even telling you they love you and sending you gifts.
The key rule is that you should never send money to anyone you meet online and should reconsider your relationship with anyone who asks you for money or who you otherwise suspect may be a scammer.
Scammers will often ask you to send money via a wire transfer service and you will usually be unable to recover money sent this way. You should also never share personal information, such as bank account or credit card details, as you risk falling victim to fraud and identity theft.
How do I protect myself?
• Never send money to anyone you meet online
• Met someone recently and they’ve already professed their love? Be careful—it could be a scam
• If someone you met online says they need your help or your money it’s probably a scam
• If someone asks you for money, don’t reply
• Don’t share your banking or credit card details with anyone you meet online
• If someone asks you to transfer money to them via a wire service, don’t do it
• If someone asks to move your communications outside the website after only a few contacts, be careful—scammers often ask for this
• Anyone can fall for a scam—be careful and report any suspicious conduct here
• Met someone who sounds too good to be true? Be careful—it could be a scam
• If what you are seeing and hearing from someone does not match their profile, be careful—it could be a scam
• If someone offers to send you money orders to cash on their behalf, don’t do it—you may be defrauded
How can I spot a scammer?
Any of the following behaviors should raise concerns that the person you are interacting with is a scammer:
• they ask you to send them money or provide your personal or financial details
• they ask you to transfer money via a wire transfer service
• they quickly profess strong feelings or love for you
• they are vague about their interests, or what they want in a partner
• they do not answer your questions or their responses are formulaic, nonsensical or repetitive
• they claim to be stationed in or travel frequently to Africa or elsewhere overseas
• their profile, or their communications with you display poor spelling or grammar. You should carefully consider your relationship with anyone who asks you to move communications with them away from the dating website onto email, instant messaging, the phone, VoIP or some other medium after only a few contacts. Scammers will often ask you to do this so that you will be communicating only with them, are more likely to reveal personal information and will not receive safety warnings. You should never respond to a request for money, personal information or banking details, no matter the reason given.
What to do if you’ve been scammed?
1: Cease communication
If you think you have been scammed, the first step is to immediately cease communication with the scammer, to avoid losing more money or giving away more personal information.
2: Contact website operator
You should report the scammer to Christians Online where you first contacted them, as they may be targeting other users. Details of your report will be kept confidential. You should provide us with as much information about the scammer as possible. This may include examples of emails or instant messaging communications received from the scammer and photos, names and addresses, email addresses or phone numbers used by the scammer.
3: Contact your financial institution
If you have sent money to the scammer and particularly if you have provided any personal or financial details, you should contact your financial institution and inform them. If you have given the scammer information such as account numbers, credit card numbers or passwords you should immediately change them. If you used a service, such as a money transfer service to send money to the scammer you should contact the service provider.
4: Report the scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
Reporting a scam to the ACCC assists with monitoring scam trends. You can report a scam to the ACCC via the online reporting form on the ACCC’s SCAMwatch website www.scamwatch.gov.au. The details of complaints made to the ACCC will be kept confidential.
5: Contact police
If you have sent money to the scammer, you should contact your state or territory police and report your loss. If someone attempts to blackmail you, or makes threats of any kind, you should contact the police immediately.
6: Beware of future contact
Scammers will often contact you under new guises to try and get more money from you. They may pretend to be lawyers, government officials or police, often from another country, and claim that they have caught the scammer and need money to recover your losses. You should never send money—the scammers are simply trying to get more out of you.
We ask that you follow these best practices for a safe online experience.
The Christians Online Team.