Attention ! Stay vigilant on dating platforms!

Tinder and its 75 million monthly active users can help you meet the right person. But there are also traps you should beware of: they are called catfishing, sextortion, phishing and other practices used by scammers...

On dating platforms you can find soul mates, such as ill-intentioned people. This is what the documentary broadcast on Netflix, Tinder Swindler, tells the story of several women scammed by the same man. Like this man, many people take advantage of the loneliness of others and their desire to meet their better half to scam them.

Personal data and identity theft : this is the basic scam. In general, these profiles use images that seem to come directly from the catalog of a modeling agency or, on the contrary, they use amateur, blurry and suggestive images. Either way, the scammers are trying to get you to swipe right. When you do, they waste no time. Under the pretext that they "don't spend a lot of time on Tinder", they will ask you for your phone number to connect on WhatsApp and "get to know you better". At this point, you are already transmitting personal information. It is now much easier for the scammer to find your social media profiles, steal your photos and collect your data.

Catfishing : Catfishers are real people who create fake personas using stolen personal information, usually from someone they've already defrauded. It may seem harmless, but catfishing can cause a lot of hassle and last for months or years. Be aware that catfishing scams can also involve extortion, and they can be used to steal your personal information, send you malware, or even conduct espionage activities.

Sextortion : “Nudes” (photos of nudes) and “sexting” (sexually explicit messages, photos or videos), two popular and risky activities, make you an easy target for scammers to take advantage of. The victim of sextortion suffers and anguishes, having already led victims to end their lives. Scammers are very aware of the vicious impact exposure can have on you, and they take advantage of it. As a security measure, Tinder does not allow users to share photos, but once you step out of its ecosystem and start texting on another app, you may become easy prey for a blackmailer. In exchange for maintaining the confidentiality of your photos, you will be asked for a ransom which you will most likely pay. Don't be intimidated and get a third party to help you.

Phishing : By being on Tinder, you are also vulnerable to various malware and phishing attacks. You can easily be tricked into opening a link you shouldn't or giving a random verification code that will allow the scammer to access your bank accounts. After the first exchanges, you decided to meet. Your contact sends you the link of a show and asks you to buy the tickets because their card does not work for online purchases, you fill in your credit card details. But in reality, you have just entered your bank details on a fake website. Meanwhile, your date has suddenly disappeared from you…

Romantic financial scam : This scam is the most difficult to detect. Romance-related financial scams have been around forever, but the digital age allows scammers to reach new heights. Don't think they are trying to extort millions from us, they take small amounts here and there. Taken end to end, they provide them with an income. Their force of persuasion allows them to extract sums from many victims, when this one can no longer pay, the scammer disappears, leaving the victim in great suffering.

Here are the main techniques used on dating apps. To protect yourself, there are a few easy steps to follow. First and foremost, don't leave dating apps to go to other messengers. This will keep you in a safer environment where you can easily report a scammer, which will protect you and other users. If you decide to move the conversation to another application, such as WhatsApp, do not send photos of yourself that could be misused and remain vigilant.

This article originally appeared on ESET's WeLiveSecurity blog.