It’s a hacky world we’re living in, even when it comes to love and dating.
Recent research in the UK shows that British victims of online dating site scams have lost a record of over £39m in 2016. Fraud is getting more common on popular sites such as OKCupid, but the biggest of them all at the moment is Tinder. The trend is similar in other countries.
Tinder is a mobile dating app based on your location that works through information gained from your Facebook profile, friend information, likes and shares, and photos to match you with others in your area with similar interests.
All users do is fill in their basic info, then they are presented with pictures of men or women, or both, whom they can swipe right if they like them, and swipe left if they don’t. If the other person also right-swiped you, it’s a match and you two can start chatting.
It’s an immensely popular app, mostly because of the ease of use. Although Tinder does not specify the number of its users, it boasts roughly 1.4 billion swipes a day. If you think this is impressive, so do hackers and scammers.
They love the idea of access to a large user database with a large collection of personal information. The only problem they face is getting you to either allow them access to your personal data, or to simply take it from you.
Tinder has a problem of Tinder bots, automated programs that usually provide canned responses to your queries. They will try to weasel information out of you, or ask you to visit a link to verify certain information for your safety. Symantec offers to read a case study of such a Tinder bot on its blog.
When the scammers get your personal information, private pictures, videos, or your financial information (say, you entered your credit card number on that link they asked you to click on), they have power over you.
Many have been blackmailed with a threat that their videos or pictures would be posted online. Others have been scammed into paying for (usually adult) products or services without their knowledge. And even more have had their private information stolen to be sold to third parties.
So to protect yourself from that, we’ll look at a few behaviors to be aware of when you’re using Tinder.
With Tinder bots, they’ll usually have a limited amount of responses.
That means that, even after just a few minutes, you should be able to see that they’re not really responding to your messages. In fact, it will seem like they’re completely ignoring what you’re saying and trying to steer the conversation to where they want it to head. If in doubt, ask a specific question and see if they answer. If not, you have a bot.
Tinder bots can get a lot of information through really quickly. It seems like their word-per-minute is in the upper 100’s.
This is usually sketchy, especially when the profile doesn’t really match someone with such typing skills. When you combine the speed of their typing with their generic responses, you see a trend occurring.
The Tinder bots have to be attractive, so they get fake pictures online. These can be high quality or low quality, but they will generally seem too good to be true.
Even more, many will usually have some risqué pictures to draw you in, usually in lingerie or something suggestive.
Tinder works through your Facebook account and location, so there should be a one- or two-degree of separation between you two. If you cannot find them through your friends’ Facebook profile, it may not be that big of a deal.
However, if they also have very weak Facebook activity, with no bio information, not many pictures, and almost no posts ever, it’s probably fake.
By now, it should be clear that you’re dealing with a bot. However, the loudest bells should be going off when your Tinder match asks you to click on a link to verify certain information or, through some convoluted mess, to send private information. Don’t even respond, just block the person and get off Tinder for now.
These are just some of the sketchy behaviors that will help you spot a Tinder bot. But it’s best to keep your eyes open, because if they get your personal information, there are too many bad things they’ll be able to do with it.
Remember, stay vigilant online. Read this and more stories on safe behaviour online by following our blog.
Do you use Tinder or any other mobile dating app? Have any other advice? Let us know in the comments below!