With Valentine’s Day this week we all have love on the brain. Online dating has become increasingly popular so meeting new people isn’t what it used to be. That being said, it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your computer online.

1. Location, location, location! Protecting your location helps keep your information anonymous to targeted advertisers and spam mail, plus your own personal safety.

  • Disable geotagging and location tracking.
  • Beware that your photos store EXIF (Exchange Image File) info.
  • Be conscious of what’s in your selfies. The background can reveal a lot.

2. Keep personal information PERSONAL! Much like your location, your personal information can be compromised by hackers and used against you.

  • Avoid using your full name, age, location, or email on dating sites.
  • Check your digital footprint. Understand what people can see about your profile.
  • Make your social media accounts are private while using dating apps.
  • Be careful who you meet in real life. Always meet in public and let someone know!

3. Financial scams and cat-fishing really DO exist so be aware!

  • “Scam packs” – scammers buy packages that have everything you need to create fake profiles including photos, info and love letters.
  • Common scams to watch out for:
    • Sick relatives or medical emergencies
    • Relatives need money for bail
    • Ask for intimate photos – trapping you with threats of exposure
  • Any stranger sending you money is bad news!
  • Be aware of bots. They can infect your computer.
  • Avoid following links. They could trick you into downloading viruses.

4. Always have an antivirus running on your computer. 

  • Treat your online interaction as you would in person, and play it safe out there this Valentine’s day!