Shield your heart and identity from sweetheart scammers

Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:00am EST

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Experian's ProtectMyID® offers timely tips for safer online dating
COSTA MESA, Calif.,  Jan. 30, 2013  /PRNewswire/ -- There's more to worry about
this  Valentine's Day  than the possibility of a lonely or broken heart.
Experian's  ProtectMyID.com®, a multilayered identity theft detection,
protection and fraud resolution product, offers insights into how to safeguard
against con artists looking to steal identities and money from people seeking to
make a love connection.  

There are a variety of ways thieves try to capitalize on a person's trusting
nature, including preying on lonely hearts. The Federal Bureau of Investigation
and online identity theft advocacy organizations are warning those who use
online dating sites to watch out for "sweetheart scammers" who swindle money or
bank account information from online daters.

A "sweetheart scammer" usually begins with a fake profile designed to match a
certain type of person: employed, affluent and trusting. The profile is designed
to seem perfect in every way, even down to the same likes and dislikes as the
target. Once the target reciprocates and trust has been established, the scam
usually escalates to the thief's unveiling of a problem involving money. Typical
scenarios include the request for funds to be able to travel to meet the target
or to help the thief's sick relative.

"Individuals trying to establish a relationship through online dating services
and social communities are prime targets for identity thieves who know how to
prey upon the vulnerabilities of those seeking relationships," said  Ken
Chaplin, senior vice president for Experian's ProtectMyID. "Taking the time and
effort to safeguard personal information and to look for warning signs can make
all the difference in protecting yourself."

Results from a past survey commissioned by ProtectMyID determined that a high
percentage of individuals participating in online dating fail to properly
scrutinize potential matches prior to engaging in communication. Furthermore,
many compound this issue by divulging too much personal information at a very
early stage. From birth dates and addresses to phone numbers and even bank
account details, the flow of information is alarmingly high in the online dating
world.[1]  

ProtectMyID reminds people that they can take precautionary steps and spot a
scam before romance fades into financial and identity fraud:

* Profiles should tease, not disclose everything. Don't disclose personally
identifiable information with a prospective dating match until there is an
established level of familiarity and trust. This also includes your hometown,
home addresses, work specifics, phone numbers, educational background and
information about children via profiles and through photo identification.  
* Keep the details close to the heart. Avoid posting personally identifiable
information on your online dating profiles, including but not limited to
hometown, home addresses, work specifics, phone numbers, educational background
and information about children via profiles and through photo identification.  
* Cupid isn't always right. Don't assume that a prospective dating match always
will be truthful. Ask a person to tell you about himself or herself; you then
can conduct a little background work on websites and see if conflicting
information exists. Also, be wary of any requests for financial loans or
assistance of any kind.  
* Create the perfect password. For online dating profiles, do not use passwords
that incorporate publicly known information.

Even though Valentine's season is the time to be on high alert for possible
sweetheart scams, it's important to realize this is a year-round issue. The
Identity Theft Resource Center®  confirms that they receive calls from people
who have been swindled by sweetheart scammers throughout the year.  

"With  Valentine's Day  around the corner, we are reminded that this holiday
isn't always chocolate and roses for everyone," said  Eva Casey Velasquez,
president of the Identity Theft Resource Center. "While sweetheart scammers
definitely operate all year long, they are particularly noticeable at a time
when everyone wants to celebrate romance. These scams are a double whammy for
the victim because they are affected both fiscally and emotionally. It's
important to remember to always make financial decisions with your head and not
your heart."   

About  Experian's ProtectMyID
ProtectMyID is a leading, full-service provider of identity theft detection,
protection and resolution. ProtectMyID offers comprehensive  identity theft
protection  products supported by experienced identity theft resolution
professionals who deliver personal attention that customers can rely on.
ProtectMyID is a Website owned by ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company.
For more information about how ProtectMyID helps consumers protect themselves
against  identity theft, please visit  http://www.ProtectMyID.com.

About Experian  
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and
analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to
manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision
making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit
score, and protect against identity theft.  

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent
of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended  31 March 2012  was 
US$4.5 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 44 countries and
has its corporate headquarters in  Dublin, Ireland, with operational
headquarters in  Nottingham, UK;  California, US; and São Paulo,  Brazil.  

For more information, visit  http://www.experianplc.com.

Experian and the Experian marks used herein are service marks or registered
trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company
names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

Contact:

Ann Noder
Pitch Public Relations  
1 480 263 1557  
ann@pitchpublicrelations.com

Becky Frost
Experian Consumer Services
1 949 202 7296
becky.frost@experianinteractive.com

SOURCE  Experian`s ProtectMyID.com

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