Chatting with someone new is hard. Thinking you found the right person only to discover they just want your Social Security number is harder. Read on to learn how to spot a potential scammer while securing your next date. We’ll cover the five most common types of scams you might see while online dating and 11 signs you might be talking to a scammer online. And get Norton 360 with LifeLock Select to help protect your identity and keep you safe online while you find your next Tinder crush.
Diving into the world of online dating is exciting. There are many opportunities to meet new people and see who could be there for you. But not everyone is swiping to find the one to love—some are looking for the one to target in their Tinder scams. In this post, we’ll cover the five most common Tinder scams, including:
- Fake or bot profiles
- Two-factor authentication scams
- Catfishing and romance scams
- Sugaring scams
- Tinder promoter scams
There are several common Tinder scams you might encounter while online dating. It’s important to know how to identify the signs you might be chatting up a scammer and what they might be trying to get from you so you can better protect your personal information online.
1. Fake or bot profiles
Fake profiles, or bot profiles, are Tinder profiles that are controlled by software, not a person. Scammers can use programming to send messages on a large scale, typically to distribute malware through fake links, malicious websites, or fraudulent social media profiles. For example, a bot might request that you chat on a site called Alloned, which is a website bots have allegedly used to infect targeted devices with malware.
Malware spread by bots can spy on your devices, steal your passwords, and more. If you’re sending messages to someone on Tinder and their replies seem general, overly enthusiastic, or to frequently misinterpret your messages, these could be signs you’re talking to a bot.
You might be able to spot some warning signs of a bot from a quick profile glance. Is their bio very generic? Are their pictures heavily edited? Do all their photos look professional? These could be signs you’re dealing with a bot or fake profile.
- Warning signs: They respond too quickly, messages don’t always make sense, and they send suspicious links or surveys.
2. Two-factor authentication (2FA) scams
Two-factor authentication (2FA), sometimes called two-factor authorization, is a way to verify your identity before logging into an account. The platform you’re trying to access will email or text you a one-time code to use with your password to help verify your identity before you log in.
Some scammers may use Tinder to gain your trust if they already have your username and password to log in and take over your accounts. They’ll either ask if they can send a code to your account or come up with a reason they already have before asking you to share the code with them.
Never share a code sent to your phone with anyone who asks. It can be difficult to regain control of your accounts, and if the scammer gains access to your banking info, it could lead to identity theft and more.
- Warning signs: They ask to use your phone number for an account or to send you a code.
3. Catfishing and romance scams
Real people run catfish profiles—they’re just not the person in the photos they share. A catfisher could be a stranger or even someone you know. Catfishing scams are also generally referred to as romance scams, as scammers will use the illusion of a romance to trick their target.
They are typically looking to scam you out of your money, but sometimes catfishers will try to get information or photos to blackmail you later.
Sometimes people catfish another person due to loneliness or insecurity without intending to scam them, but this is less common. Always verify someone's identity—through a video call or meeting in a public place—before building a relationship with them.
- Warning signs: They’re hesitant to meet up, their photos are too good to be true, and they escalate the relationship without meeting in person.
4. Sugaring scams
Sugaring is engaging in a relationship where one person—called a sugar baby—is compensated for going on dates or attending events with the other. However, some people will impersonate others online or pretend to be looking for a sugar baby.
From there, the scam works like a bounced check scam. They’ll send you a large check or pretend to send money some other way, then ask you to send them a smaller portion in return. After that, the original check will bounce but the scammer will have the money you sent them.
Never send money to someone you don’t know very well. Someone may put a lot of effort into making this scam believable, even taking you out to nice dinners to earn your trust before scamming you.
- Warning signs: They ask for you to send them money before or after they compensate you.
5. Tinder promoter scams
Promoters are people who clubs, restaurants, or bars hire to bring in more customers. They usually operate on social media, but sometimes they’ll prowl on dating sites too. While annoying, a promoter scam is typically a less dangerous type of Tinder scam.
Tinder promoters usually aren’t interested in hacking you or directly scamming you out of money—they’re just looking to get you to their establishment to buy a drink or two. However, it can still be hurtful to think you’re building a relationship with someone only to find out they’re just trying to get you to fill space at a bar.
- Warning signs: They’re insistent you need to meet at a specific establishment.
11 signs of a Tinder scam
It’s best to stay cautious when you’re using any dating app or website. You may be dealing with a Tinder scam if the person you’re talking to:
- Uses photos that appear heavily photoshopped
- Avoids including photos with friends
- Responds immediately
- Sends confusing messages
- Sends links, calendar invites, or surveys
- Cancels plans to meet up in-person
- Moves very quickly into a relationship without meeting
- Asks you to send a code or money
- Insists you meet in a specific place
- Shares inconsistent information about their personal life
- Asks for illicit photos or information from you
When in doubt, try meeting with your date in person. While some romance scammers may still target you after meeting in person, a large majority will refuse to meet up.
If you’re worried you have encountered the rare scammer who will actually take you on a date or two, asking to meet their friends or seeing if you can verify some personal information they’ve shared, such as where they went to school, can help ease your suspicions.
Always take these safety precautions when meeting a date for the first time:
- Meet in a public place.
- Tell a friend or family member about your plans.
- Arrange your own transportation to and from the date.
Trust your gut when you’re chatting with potential dates, whether it’s in person or online. If you’re unsure whether the person you’re chatting with is authentic, there’s probably a reason you feel that way, and it might be time to move on.
How to prevent Tinder scams
You’re not powerless against romance scammers. Here are some top tips for swiping safely:
- Stay educated on the types of romance scams.
- Don’t share personal information with someone online.
- Meet in a public place.
- Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know.
- Don't click on any links someone sends.
Tinder scammers are typically looking for easy targets. By educating yourself on a scammer's basic signs and habits, you’re making it harder for a Tinder scammer to steal your information.
What to do if you fall for a Tinder scam
It’s upsetting to think you’re getting along with someone you met on a dating app only to find out they’re not there for the right reasons. Here’s what you can do:
- Take screenshots of your interactions with them.
- Report and block all known profiles.
- Contact your local authorities if a crime, such as cyberstalking, has occurred.
If the person has your personal or financial information, you should also:
- Implement a credit freeze.
- Review your credit report.
- Report any instances of fraud to your bank.
- Replace your compromised credit and debit cards.
Many people feel embarrassed after getting scammed online, especially because the signs seem more obvious in hindsight. There’s no reason to be embarrassed—scammers can target anyone, and they’re hard to spot when your emotions are getting manipulated.
Once you’ve reported the scammer’s accounts and taken the necessary steps to recover your information, don’t be too hard on yourself about having fallen for a scammer. Instead, take this as a learning opportunity to bring you one step closer to safe online dating.
Finding the one and staying safe
For anyone dating online, keeping yourself protected is important. Norton 360 with LifeLock Select can help keep your devices protected from potential malware that scammers might try to send your way. If a romance scammer gains access to your account, Norton 360 with LifeLock includes identity theft protection to help you recover.
FAQs about Tinder scams
Are you new to the world of online dating and looking for knowledge so you can be a safe swiper? Check out these common questions below.
What can a Tinder scammer do with my phone number?
A scammer with your phone number could commit phone account takeover fraud or use it to trick you into sharing two-factor authentication codes so they can take over other accounts.
Are a lot of Tinder profiles fake?
Tinder takes some measures to protect against fraud on their platform, such as asking users with suspicious accounts to send verification photos if the algorithm detects an account might be fake. But some fake Tinder accounts will always slip through the cracks. You don’t need to worry that everyone you chat with is a scammer, but it’s important to be aware of the signs to spot one if it happens to you.
Is Tinder legitimate?
Tinder is a legitimate online dating app to help you meet new people. As with any online dating service, it’s important to take some basic precautions to stay safe.