Don’t Date Hackers and Cyber Thieves
HSB Survey Finds Consumers Ignore Risks of Online Dating
Spring brings a surge in activity for online dating services as many singles make a fresh start in their search for the perfect match.
There could be trouble ahead for some, however, as consumers looking for romance discount the threat of hackers, imposters and other cyber criminals who may target the popular Internet sites.
When asked how worried they were that their personal data would be compromised online, a cyber survey of consumers released today by Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), part of Munich Re, found singles showed little concern about using dating websites and apps.
“Online dating risks can include fraud, blackmail and invasion of privacy,” said Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSB, a provider of cyber insurance to consumers and businesses. “Yet, many people reveal their personal and even intimate information without thinking about digital security.”
Daters are cheated in so-called romance scams, when people they meet online ask for money or banking information. Often, they use phony dating profiles and may use the victim’s data to steal their identity, apply for credit cards, or threaten to expose personal facts or photos unless they’re paid.
People reported losing $143 million in romance schemes in 2018, the highest total of any type of consumer complaint tracked by the Federal Trade Commission. The FBI estimates that criminal complaints of online dating fraud tripled over five years to $230 million lost in 2016.
So, are people worried?
Although the HSB poll conducted by Zogby Analytics found respondents were most concerned that a virus, hacker or computer attack would damage their data, laptops or smartphones (68 percent “very or somewhat concerned”), they were far less anxious about dating sites and apps.
Only 37 percent were somewhat or very concerned their personal information would be exposed through online dating, and 35 percent were “not at all concerned.” That ranked near last of 24 categories — only defamation and lawsuits from online bullying were considered less of a threat.
Help Keep Your Data Safe When Online Dating
Consumers should be more cautious with the personal data they share through dating websites and apps. Here are some tips to help protect your privacy and security.
- Be aware that scammers and cyber criminals will be trolling even reputable dating sites.
- Strong passwords, passphrases and other basic cyber security measures are important. Use multi-factor identification when available.
- Never visit dating sites on public, unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Install a VPN and disable GPS tracking when using dating apps to make it more difficult to identify your location.
- Don’t share personal information through the messaging feature on a dating site, texting or emails. Do it in person if you decide to meet a date.
- Use online search engines to check people out. Search for the person’s name, together with the word “scam” and do an image search for photos they share. Fraudsters are clever, but often lazy, using the same messages and images.
- Don’t send money to anyone you meet through an online dating site or app. Don’t share your banking information, purchase tickets or make travel arrangements for dates.
- Beware a “match” who avoids meeting in person.
- Don’t share intimate images through an online dating site. Remember, anything shared electronically is stored indefinitely, long after a relationship may end.
Note for the editorial staff
Survey Methodology - Zogby Analytics was commissioned by Hartford Steam Boiler to conduct a survey in December 2018 of 1,510 adults in the United States. Based on a confidence interval of 95 percent, the results had a margin for error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. That means all other things being equal, the identical survey repeated would have results within the margin of error 95 times out of 100.
Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), part of Munich Re, is a multi-line specialty insurer and provider of inspection, risk management and IoT technology services. HSB insurance offerings include equipment breakdown, cyber risk, specialty liability and other coverages. HSB blends its engineering expertise, technology and data to craft inventive insurance and service solutions for existing and emerging risks posed by technological change. Throughout its 150 year history HSB’s mission has been to help clients prevent loss, advance sustainable use of energy and build deeper relationships that benefit business, public institutions and consumers. HSB holds A.M. Best Company’s highest financial rating, A++ (Superior). Connect with HSB on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Munich Re is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, primary insurance and insurance-related risk solutions. The group consists of the reinsurance and ERGO business segments, as well as the capital investment company MEAG. Munich Re is globally active and operates in all lines of the insurance business. Since it was founded in 1880, Munich Re has been known for its unrivalled risk-related expertise and its sound financial position. It offers customers financial protection when faced with exceptional levels of damage – from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and the California wildfires in 2018. Munich Re possesses outstanding innovative strength, which enables it to also provide coverage for extraordinary risks such as rocket launches, renewable energies, cyber attacks, or pandemics. The company is playing a key role in driving forward the digital transformation of the insurance industry, and in doing so has further expanded its ability to assess risks and the range of services that it offers. Its tailor-made solutions and close proximity to its customers make Munich Re one of the world’s most sought-after risk partners for businesses, institutions, and private individuals.
Hartford, Connecticut, April 03, 2019
The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
One State Street
P.O. Box 5024
Hartford, Connecticut 06102-5024