#datingscams | Surfing the web safely in rural America | AG

(KMAland) — Social networking is well-known for helping over half of all Americans find new friends, dates, or even significant others.

However, knowing how to surf the web safely is extremely important. Not only will you protect your heart but your pocketbook as well. Sean Voskuhl is the Oklahoma State Director for the AARP. He says a Pew Research Center study points out that almost 60 percent of all U.S. adults, including farmers and rural residents, consider online dating a good way to meet people.

“Match Dot Com says people 50 and older represent its fastest-growing segment of users. We at AARP know that online relationships are growing among adults. However, we also know that online relationship scams are on the rise too. A recent AARP online survey regarding relationship scams found that 27 percent of the respondents say they or someone they know encountered an online relationship scam. Eleven percent of people were victimized by an online relationship scam.”

Rural residents have often reached out for social interaction and discussion. Unfortunately, scammers do too. Voskuhl says it’s important to be careful if someone you only know online asks for some kind of help, especially financial. In 2019, romance scams cost Americans a total of $201 million.

“If you fall victim to an online financial scam, it can be very hard to recover your money. As a farmer, those funds are a loss that could have been used in any number of ways to further the operation. The internet is a great way for farmers to connect with others, especially other farmers who may be going through some of the same challenges. However, safety is a key to all online interactions. Verification is a key to keeping yourself from getting scammed online.”

Look into the people that you meet online to make sure they are who they say they are. Voskuhl says make sure the image you see online matches up with that person you’re communicating with.

“Image search the person you’re talking to, whether it’s on a social media platform, dating site, or even a GoFundMe page. Make sure the image matches up with the name they give you. If they list a wrong city/state combination, that’s a red flag. If the person claims to be well-educated but you see poor written grammar on the site or profile, that’s another large red flag. It’s a cliché but it’s true; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

For more information visit AARP.org/AARPlive.

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