Navigating Love Safely: Protecting Your Heart and Finances from Online Scams

R.O.S.E., Resources/Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the search for companionship often leads many people to explore online dating services or social media groups. However, during the search, it’s crucial to be aware of romance scams that can exploit the genuine desire for connection as you age. Here’s a guide tailored to older adults to help identify and avoid falling victim to scams during this season of love.

1. Steady and sure connections. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, scammers may attempt to create a whirlwind romance. Be cautious of individuals who express intense feelings quickly, especially if you haven’t met them face-to-face. Genuine relationships take time to grow, and it’s perfectly acceptable to proceed with caution and patience.

2. The importance of face-to-face. Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, and connections are strengthened through real-life interactions. If your online friend constantly avoids meeting in person, offering reasons like distance or financial constraints, exercise caution. Scammers often use these excuses to maintain anonymity.

3. Guarding your finances. You should be enjoying life, not dealing with financial heartaches. If your online “friend” starts requesting money for emergencies or travel expenses, be skeptical. Romance scammers often weave elaborate stories to evoke empathy, leading to a request for financial support. Do not send money to someone you’ve only met virtually.

4. Verification and validation. Before embracing love online, take steps to verify the authenticity of your new friend. Utilize Google’s reverse image search to confirm the legitimacy of profile pictures. Oftentimes scammers will reuse profile pictures. If someone is hesitant to share personal details or has a limited online presence, proceed with caution and prioritize your safety. Check with someone you know, like and trust before going too far.

5. Wisdom in recognizing tactics. Wisdom is your greatest asset. Educate yourself on common tactics used by romance scammers, such as overly polished profiles, inconsistent information, and poor grammar. Scammers often operate from abroad, and language nuances may reveal their true intentions.

As you celebrate this Valentine’s Day, remember that genuine connections stand the test of time. Prioritize your safety, trust your instincts, and enjoy the journey of companionship at a pace comfortable for you.

Know that most scams follow this basic process. It starts with uninitiated contact. Then they will prey on your emotions before creating a compelling reason to act. Then finally, they will ask for money—usually through gift cards. In romance scams, they will take the time to groom, or nurture, the relationship before requesting payment.

Knowing these steps will help you to identify the scam and avoid falling for their despicable tactics. May this season of love bring you authentic connections and cherished moments.

R.O.S.E. seeks to create change by educating and providing awareness of financial scams that typically target the older adult population, with a focus on those age 60 and over. For more information and resources, visit, email us at [email protected], or call us at 602-445-7673.