How to stay safe when using online dating apps or websites for Valentine’s Day

Updated: Feb. 12, 2020 at 9:04 AM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Those looking for the perfect date for Valentine’s Day may have downloaded an app or created a profile for an online dating site.

While dating websites can have benefits, experts said they can also be dangerous.

ONLINE DATING FOR VALENTINE’S DAY? We’re talking all about phrases to look out for and how to protect yourself while searching for a sweetheart online🌹

Posted by Kate Merriman WMBF on Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Better Business Bureau suggests researching a dating website before using it. Stan Greenawalt, a cyber security professor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, said the sites collect data from you.

He said it’s important to read the fine print of these apps or websites to know what information they are collecting and how it can be shared with strangers.

“A lot of time even though the apps may be free, they’re still using that data they’re collecting and sharing it to a third party," Greenawalt said. "Now they may be using it to help for advertisement, but they can make a lot of money by taking the data you willing put in there about yourself so that you can be marketed in other ways.”

Greenawalt said some language used while dating online can be considered a red flag, noting that if a person starts to continuously ask for personal information, stop responding immediately.

“Catfishing” is the term used when someone is posing as someone else. Members of the Better Business Bureau suggest being cautious when people ask for your personal email, confess to loving you immediately, or cancel a date because of a “traumatic event” or “bad business deal.”

Another warning is if they ask you to wire money to travel, for hotels or even medical emergencies.

Greenawalt suggests those who are planning a date with someone they met online for Valentine’s Day to bring a friend, go to a public place, and make sure the people you trust know where you are.

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