Category Archives: Online Dating

Russia’s Version of Tinder Hacked—Next Target: USA?

 

 

YourEmail
Thieves have a reason for wanting your email address. Photo credit: Kevin Fitz

Bloomberg reports today that 20 million users of a Russian online dating site Topface had their user names and email addresses hacked and offered for sale via an online black market.

The owners of the dating site, which uses a similar format to Tinder here in the States, were quick to note that no password or payment information was compromised, as the the majority of users log in with their Facebook details.

So what’s the big deal with having your username and email taken by thieves?

According to an online security expert quoted in the story having these details compromised still presents reasons to worry:

Ingevaldson said such personal information usually sells quickly, to fraudsters who use automated software programs to find sites where people used the same information they did to access the dating site… Hackers are targeting popular websites to steal user names and passwords that they later use to try break into electronic-payment and mobile-phone accounts.

Here are our thoughts:

First, in an increasingly connected world, where online dating apps utilize your Facebook details and Facebook increasingly seeks to access your wallet, data security becomes even more important. Managing your passwords, and getting educated about the security the vendors you choose to do business with are essential.

Second, actively managing your online presence via social networks, online dating sites and gaming sites is no longer optional. When you grow tired of apps or social networks ensure you have removed yourself and your data from their servers as much as you can.

Leaving your username and email available across dozens of different sites with varying levels of security is just what cyber criminals want.

If you’re interested in how BeenVerified can help you manage your online presence, check out our previous blog post on the topic here.

Blizzard Boyfriends

 

NYCsnow
A blizzard is approaching NYC. Photo credit: Roey Ahram

Here in NYC we are battening down the hatches as an historic blizzard approaches. If you’d like to nerd out to the snowfall potential and how many inches we need for it to break records, we recommend the data blog FiveThirtyEight. (The number some of us are rooting to surpass, and others dreading, is 26.9 inches).

While headlines about the total snowfall, travel delays and emptying supermarkets have been common, one unusual storm-related headline in particular caught our attention from Business Insider:

New Yorkers Are Flocking To Craigslist To Find ‘Blizzard Boyfriends’ And Girlfriends.

It seems like some New Yorkers, faced with the prospect of days snowed in by themselves, have made a move to quickly find a romantic partner to shack up with and endure the snowstorm. The article highlights a number of ads on Craigslist and we imagine similar behavior is lighting up dating services across New York now.

We’ve written before about time-pressure, bad judgment and online dating in relation to Tinder, but finding a date to spend the night (nights?) alone with you on such short notice, surely pushes the limits of even a typical Tinder hook-up.

Our opinion on this topic is well known, but what about you? Are “blizzard boyfriends” and girlfriends a natural antidote to the loneliness of an incoming city blizzard, or a reckless rolling of the dice? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

And don’t worry if you need us this week. BeenVerified’s award-winning customer service team is based in sunny Florida (current temperature: 77 degrees!) and available to continue serving you without interruption.

Match.com Removes Profile of “Cannibal Cop”

 

In a reminder of all the types of people who you could possibly (and likely don’t want to) meet on an online dating site, The Huffington Post reports that Match.com decided to remove the profile of the alleged “Cannibal Cop” from its site after numerous requests from other users and strong media attention. CannibalCop

The ex-NYPD officer who was initially convicted of planning to kill women and eat them, including his ex-wife, had his online dating profiled outed this week by the New York Post in a pun-filled article that noted among other things, the man’s passion for cooking. You can read that article in full for more context on his case, but be warned, many of the details are distasteful.

We’ve mentioned before that as online dating becomes increasingly mainstream, a potential downside is that it will attract more people that you will want to avoid. These will include con artists and those with lengthy, unrepentant criminal records to name just a couple of examples.

Paradoxically, as online dating loses its stigma and more people trust and enter the various sites, there will increasingly be more opportunities to run into trouble by meeting the wrong kind of people.

While avoiding notorious potential suitors such as the Cannibal Cop may be somewhat easier thanks to the media coverage of his particular case, keep in mind that there are many more savvy and unknown characters out there.

Use common sense, your intuition and if necessary, a background check, as tools to assess any of the 40 million and growing potential dates you might find online.

New Year, Old Online Dating Scams

 

ABC 7 News reported yesterday of a woman targeted by an online dating scammer posing as a US Army sergeant. According to the official Armed Services newspaper Stars & Stripes, these types of scams are prevalent as the scammer simply steals a photo of the member of the armed forces from their social media profiles to use on unsuspecting women.

We encourage you to read the full story at the link above on how this scam develops, but thought we would reiterate some of the key points for avoiding these type of romance scams, whether they come wrapped in camouflage or not.

Beware impostors pretending to be from the armed services or international businessmen on online dating sites. Photo credit: Stefano Corso
Beware impostors pretending to be from the armed services or international businessmen on online dating sites. Photo credit: Stefano Corso

Reminder–How to avoid an online dating scam:

1. When online dating, insist on meeting in person early on before you send too many messages and form a “virtual attachment.” Your first date should always be in a public place and if you have a funny feeling, consider running a background check on your potential date beforehand.

2. Be extra careful if your suitor has reason to be out of the country to avoid a first meeting. International business people and members of the armed services make easy cover stories for scam artists.

3. Never send money early on in a relationship and especially before having met the person. Treat any requests for money as a clear red flag for a scam.

As the article states, you can also search RomanceScam.com and RomanceScams.org to search for common profile photos used by con artists.

While the tactics of scam artists are always changing, the above principles remain the same and we hope will help you avoid any trouble on your search for romance.

 

Five Words To Ruin A Date

 

Twitter trending topics rarely last a full day, let alone two, but #FiveWordsToRuinADate has had surprising staying power this week.

This week a dating topic has taken over Twitter. Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
This week a dating topic has taken over Twitter. Photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Here are some of our favorite suggestions from Twitter users around the world:

York Regional Police@YRP

“This vehicle was reported stolen.” #FiveWordsToRuinADate

Katie Zavadski@katiezavadski

“I dated my dad once.” #FiveWordstoRuinaDate

Spotify USA@SpotifyUSA

“Not a big music person.”  #FiveWordsToRuinADate

Ryan Cullen@RyanCullen90

“I wish I swiped left.” #FiveWordsToRuinADate

William Shakespeare@Shakespeare

“I will tame thee, shrew!” #FiveWordsToRuinADate

It’s clear that the Twitter universe has had some really bad dates.

While many of these situations cannot be helped (there were a surprisingly high number of toilet incidents!), some of them could have been potentially preventable with the use of a background check.

Search the hashtag #FiveWordsToRuinADate on Twitter now to see thousands of other suggestions.

Will You Date A Cyborg?

 

It’s easy to get down about online dating.

These pages have documented some of the pitfalls from the Tinder jerks that were documented in the recent “Bye Felipe” controversy, to the more concerning safety and fraud issues that the platforms can invite.

Is this the future of dating?
Is this the future of dating? Photo credit: Christopher Phin

Beyond those very really concerns, the sheer awkwardness of a first online date can be almost as bad. The person whose profile seems perfect and made you laugh with their online messages, could turn out to be a different proposition altogether in the flesh.

Maybe your date’s picture was misleading, or the person is just extremely shy making real life conversation, preventing the development of any legit chemistry.

Simply deciding on the right first date activity can be the most challenging part. Dinner is often too formal, but coffee dates can be distracting and too brief to make a real connection with your date.

Perhaps with this in mind, software developers recently demonstrated Cyborg Dating, a new twist that attempts to solve for that awkward first date encounter and create real intimacy through the power of virtual reality.

The idea is that one person wears VR goggles, such as Google Cardboard, while their partner helps supervise them and ensure they don’t fall into a ditch while navigating their virtual environment.

The pair then accomplish their “OutdoorVR” mission while the software simultaneously guides the person wearing goggles with helpful conversational prompts to avoid those awkward first date silences.

The creators of the project say that Cyborg Dating serves as a glimpse into the future when virtual and normal reality will coexist, kind of like in the movie Her.

It was unclear if the virtual reality goggles can be programmed to allow for the fake phone call from a friend in case you immediately know your date is lame.

You can read more on the Cyborg Dating project at the Fast Co. Design web site.

What do you think about this concept? Cool ice breaker activity, or date from hell in the  making?

How Public Data Can Help You Dominate in 2015

 

2015
Have a better 2015 with data. Photo credit: Joy Lin

While many people set and then struggle to achieve the same New Year’s resolutions each year, at BeenVerified we have a more novel suggestion for you which may in fact help you to achieve any number of goals along the way. This includes your financial, business, and love life.

Our idea: resolve to become more data-oriented in your everyday life.

What does this mean? It means utilizing the public and private data relevant to your life to make better decisions about how you live, what you do and whom you do it with.

Take online dating: are you one of the 40 million Americans who have tried it?

If so, have you ever given thought to what data you use to inform your decision making on sites that could help you find a future spouse, intimate partner or even just a one-time hook-up? If you’re like many, you are just relying on a series of photos and a few lines of text that make up a profile. Tinder users just rely on a picture alone.

Regardless, these extremely limited data sets come from the same biased source: someone trying to sell you on them!

Consider that for matters as serious as your heart (and your personal safety) other sources of publicly available data could be useful, including a background check.

This tool can help give you the peace of mind that your next date checks out with the vital stats that they have presented to you. It can also alert you to a potential date’s financial difficulties, current and ex-spouses, business associates, properties and any criminal record.

Why wait for this crucial information? Consider a background check to make your dating life more secure, efficient and confident in 2015.

Here are some other ways that public data can potentially improve your life this year:

Buying a new home:

Is this the year you will buy your first home? You can use data in public records to research home values in your target neighborhood and also estimate your tax bill. Don’t overpay on the biggest investment of your life.

Researching business contacts:

Are you serious about building your Rolodex this year? Public data can be a powerful research tool and can give you a knowledge edge when interacting with potential new clients.

Finding a long-lost relative:

Has a family member been out of touch for a while? Not sure where they live now or how to get in touch? Public records can be a fantastic resource for this purpose if you have their name and an idea of their age.

While becoming more data-oriented, especially with public records, may have been a daunting task in the past, this year you have access to clear and affordable public data searches in the palm of your hand through background check services like BeenVerified.

Check out our new iOS or Android app and commit to becoming more data-oriented this year.

Top 3 Ways to Handle Rejection in Online Dating

 

Rejection is a difficult thing to stomach and new research indicates it can even impact your nervous system.

One arena where rejection is a fact of life is online dating. The reality is that people use online dating for a variety of purposes, and on certain platforms like Tinder, the majority of users view it as a game and not a way to find a serious partner.

We've all been there. Photo credit: Mark Morgan
We’ve all been there. Photo credit: Mark Morgan

With such an unpleasant feeling as rejection bound to impact almost anyone who tries online dating, we thought it a good idea to list the best ways to keep rejection from ruining your day, week or month.

Here are the top three ways we know of to effectively deal with rejection in online dating:

1. Avoid expectations, or at least keep them very low

The best way to limit the disappointment of rejection is to keep your expectations in check in the first place. The odds are you will not meet your future spouse by the first or even tenth person you date.

Think of online dating as a form of social practice, where you have nothing to lose. Be sure to pick a restaurant or event that you have wanted to try regardless of of the date. Learn about the other person, even if you know immediately that he or she will not suit you as a long-term partner. Approaching your date as a learning experience will help quell any feelings of rejection after the fact.

Most of all, assume that the person you are on a first date with likely has other dates lined up after you…and you should follow suit! Avoid attachment after a first, second or even third date. Assume non-exclusivity until it is openly stated and don’t expect to find the perfect partner in a set period of time.

Finally, don’t put other areas of your social life on hold. Remember that you can just as easily meet someone randomly at a coffee shop or bookstore as you can online. In other words, don’t expect online dating to be a cure-all and don’t put all your eggs in the online dating basket. If you do, the feeling of rejection will only be amplified when it inevitably comes to you.

2. Exercise

Don’t stew on an unanswered messages or texts. Get some fresh air and exercise. Science has shown the correlation between exercise and strong mental and emotional health. Not getting a date is a poor reason to be inactive and your lack of activity may make you feel even worse!

Push yourself to leave the house, go to the gym and the benefits to your mood, body and state of mind will all be noticeable. Consider adding yoga and meditation to the mix to train your mind which will pay off when dealing with challenging situations. Consistent exercise will help stabilize your mood, immune system and make you more resilient to life’s ups and downs.

3. Don’t quit…unless you really want to

Keep in mind online dating is the ultimate numbers game. While we don’t encourage you to message everyone on the platform nor accept a date with just anyone who messages you without due diligence, flexibility and patience are keys to a successful online dating experience. Many people send hundreds of messages and go on dozens of dates before finding a partner. While the process can be frustrating, the reward, when and if it comes, could make the time investment worth it.

Don’t quit because you feel uniquely unsuccessful with online dating. Nearly everyone finds it frustrating at times. If however, you do feel frustrated, you may decide to take a break from your site for a few months or switch to a dating platform that might suit you better.

Choose to start or stop online dating on your own terms and regardless of whom you find to date, you can consider yourself a success.

Can “Grades” Improve Online Dating?

 

Another month brings another new online dating service. This time, it’s The Grade, a new iOS app that aims to build “community of high-quality” daters through using an algorithm to determine how often the daters profiles are liked, the quality and frequency of their messages. Users who receive consistently low grades will eventually be kicked off the platform.

The Grade motivates its users to write better messages and maintain an engaging profile. Or else.
The Grade motivates its users to write better messages and maintain an engaging profile. Or else. Photo credit: Robert Hruzek

In the age of Tinder, The Grade seems like at least a partial antidote to the rapid fire swiping and curt messages that have come to play a large role in online dating today.

But will The Grade’s grading system actually work? We think it could definitely improve the overall pool of daters on the platform, but it’s not likely to be a cure-all, especially when it comes to those dedicated to deception, and it may even encourage it.

Here are some online dater profiles The Grade could likely weed out:

The “Hey” Guy – We all know this type. They send out hundreds (or thousands?) of one-word messages per week to every woman from the age of 18-40, hoping to strike up a conversation (or at least their version of a conversation). The Grade should definitely knock out these monosyllabic, desperate types or at least make them up their conversational games. The question is if you want them to?

The Felipe – You can read more about this type on our previous blog post here, but suffice to say that the type of abuse that is common on Tinder would not win favorable grades.

The Infuriating Obscure Photo Profile – A single, mysterious photo of the back of your head looking at the Ocean. The baseball hat and sunglasses photo. The off-centered selfie. You know these profile photos suck. Just like in college when you turned in that crappy paper in a non-core class, you know this work isn’t good enough. So no one should complain when profile pictures like these receive a failing grade.

Who The Grade likely won’t weed out:

While we’re excited that The Grade’s community policing approach could innovate when it comes to clearing out the dregs and time wasters of online dating, one should keep in mind that the deceptive, emotionally manipulative and high-level con artists thrive on being tested in such a manner.

Someone trying to hide their “true” self will have no problem putting up quality pictures and writing a detailed (albeit false) profile. Likewise, a scammer targeting online daters only needs to be successful once before disappearing (and perhaps reappearing under a new identity).

That’s why it’s always a good idea to consider a background check as part of your due diligence in online dating. The platforms – whether Tinder, Match or The Grade – will change, but your common sense should remain.

What do you think? Will grades improve the online dating experience? Let us know in the comments section.

 

Tinder’s Edge: The “Bye Felipe” Controversy

This week the harsh reality of what many women have to deal with in online dating was driven home by an Instagram account called Bye Felipe, which highlighted various men’s reactions to being turned down for dates, mostly via Tinder and OKCupid. The reactions are offensive, shocking and so ridiculous they are in many cases funny.

The Instagram everyone is talking about. Source: Urban Dictionary.

While the account provides an admittedly limited sample size of men, the widespread media and blog coverage seems to have struck a chord with many women dating online.

Perhaps the most disturbing element is how rapidly messages go from normal pick up lines or date requests to misogynistic and hateful insults. We’ve talked about the time pressure associated with Tinder and related apps before, but here that time pressure to respond now, make a date now, hook up now, is very evident—as are the potential consequences of moving too quickly with someone you barely know.

As the creator of the Bye Felipe account commentates after receiving yet another insulting message back from a man who was romantically courting her just moments earlier:

“Dodged another psychopath.”

The scary thing is that in many of these instances, the author of the site makes clear that she simply fell asleep between messages or was otherwise distracted from responding right away, which the men in question took for radio silence and then unleashed their tirades upon her. Their true personalities showed after only the smallest perceived slight.

If it wasn’t for this type of “fortunate” misunderstanding, the author could have found herself on a first date with a real-life psychopath, or at least someone unable to control his temper over minor disappointments.

The #ByeFelipe controversy only reinforces a point we have made repeatedly, that in online dating it’s best not to rush into a first date until you have a good idea of whom you’ll be meeting. This is why we have cautioned against the Tinder hook-up mentality. It’s also why we encourage to be vigilant for scammers and engage potential online dates in messages and to review their profiles and photos for inconsistencies before meeting up.

As part of this vigilance, making a background check part of your screening process can make sense. While a background check won’t detect a bad temper, it will highlight any major inconsistencies, including a history of criminal behavior that may make you choose to say, “Bye, Felipe!”