Love, it’s exciting and new – except when it’s a sham. Stick with us here.
As online dating continues to rise in popularity, unfortunately, so do romance scams. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost a record $547 million to romance scams in 2021.
So, what is a romance scam, and how can you protect yourself?
“The simple definition of a romance scam is where a scammer is targeting a victim in a romantic relationship and is trying to woo them to fall in love with them,” says Bryan Clark, Senior Corporate Security Field Investigator at Regions. “But the ultimate goal for them is to steal their finances and get access to their money.”
How to Avoid Romance Scams
So, how do you protect yourself from romance scams? By keeping your eyes open – and your arms wrapped around your money.
Don White, head of Corporate Security at Regions, shares five romance scam red flags to look for:
- Your new love interest immediately asks for an email or phone number. “Scammers often want to get you off the online dating messaging platform and try to contact you privately through your personal email or phone,” explains White.
- They will share their photo with you but won’t join a live call or chat where you can actually see them.
- They profess love right away, after messaging for only a short period of time and before you have met in person.
- They don’t use your name, but rather use terms of endearment such as sweetheart and honey. According to White, this is “because they are juggling many different individuals and it’s easier to use that term of endearment as opposed to calling you by name or even remembering your name.”
- They claim to have an urgent need to get money – for instance, they have a family or medical emergency and are unable to get to their funds.
When it comes to romance scams, fraudsters don’t discriminate on age or income.
“Everyone can potentially fall victim to a romance scam. If you are out there looking for love, you are a potential victim,” Clark explains.
To safeguard yourself, never give out your account information or wire money to someone you’ve only met online. And remember, says White, “It’s not true love if they’re asking you for money.”
What To Do if You Fall for a Romance Scam
Unfortunately, people still fall for romance scams. If you have been a victim of a romance scam, there are several steps you should take:
- Call your bank and let them know if you have given out your account number or other information.
- File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov.
- Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- Report it to the dating website.
To learn more about romance scams and what to do you if you think you or a loved one may be entangled in one, listen to this Regions Wealth Podcast on romance scams.
The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.
Learn more ways to fight fraud on Doing More Today: