Interacting online with people from around the world has led to amazing new developments in art, entertainment and science. Unfortunately, there can be a dark side to making friends on the internet. Learning how to spot and avoid romance scams can help you enjoy the benefits of the web while protecting your heart and your money.
What Is a Romance Scam?
In a romance scam, scammers will engage in an online relationship with an unsuspecting partner. Once they feel their target has developed romantic feelings, they will begin manipulating those feelings for their benefit. Scammers have been known to maintain relationships for years before beginning to exploit the feelings of their victim for financial gain.
How Do I Spot a Romance Scam?
The clearest way to tell you have been in contact with a romance scammer is that they will repeatedly set up and then cancel an in-person meeting — often due to an urgent personal emergency. Usually, this means they’ll ask you to transfer money to them, send them gift cards or give them your personal information. Scams come in all shapes and sizes but they tend to follow a simple pattern. Learn more about how to spot a scam and avoid becoming a potential victim.
How Can I Avoid a Romance Scam?
One way to avoid being taken advantage of by a stranger is to use the same rules you would for in-person relationships. Don’t accept messages from total strangers or casual acquaintances that seem odd or too forward. Good relationships are a two-way street of understanding and compromise. A partner that is unable to compromise or live up to promises is not a good partner, even if they make you feel special.
Talk It Out!
Discussing your online relationship with a trusted friend or family member can help you discover red flags that you might have missed. Often, scammers will tell their targets not to tell anyone about their relationship or try to discredit anyone providing a warning. This is an unhealthy sign in any relationship. A true romantic partner will want what is best for you and not take advantage of your needs.
What Do I Do if I Have Been Contacted by a Romance Scammer?
If you think you have been contacted by a romance scammer contact GECU immediately. We will help you take steps to protect your account and your information. Unfortunately, any money that you may have sent to a romance scammer is gone forever. This is why it is so important to be careful about who you trust.
GECU makes every effort to keep your personal and financial information safe from online threats. You can find more details, as well as tips to help protect your accounts and personal information in our Fraud Resource Center.