Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show the people in your life love, care and what they mean to you. Unfortunately, the excitement and romance of it all can have a bad side. If you or a loved one is looking for love online or experiencing domestic violence, know how to stay safe from the ways love can go wrong.
Watch Out for Romance Scams
If you’re looking to meet someone on social networking or dating sites, chances are a romance scammer is looking to meet you too. Dating scammers create fake profiles, often with elaborate back stories, and develop a relationship to build trust. Ultimately, their goal is to get your personal and financial information, and use it to access your devices or commit fraud. To avoid losing money to a romance scammer:
- Never send money or gifts to someone you have not met in person.
- Look out for red flags like similar stories used in other scams or requests for gift card payments.
- Learn about general online safety to prevent cyberhacking and identify tactics internet criminals use.
- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. See if it’s associated with a different name or unfamiliar details.
- If you’re up against a romance scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov.
Recognize and Get Support for Domestic Violence
Living through domestic violence can be isolating, confusing and leave you in a state of hopelessness. Know your options to evaluate what you’re experiencing and take action to leave a dangerous situation:
- Understand the signs of domestic violence. It’s common for a partner to convince you it’s your fault or you’re not really experiencing abuse. Use this list from WomensHealth.gov to learn the signs and better recognize your situation. No matter what you experience, abuse is not okay.
- Learn what steps you can take to do what’s best for you and your loved ones. Begin creating a safety plan that works for your timeline. Reach out to experts for non-judgemental and anonymous support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you are in immediate danger and need help, call 911.
No matter what trouble you’re experiencing, the government has programs and services that can help you and your family. Let USAGov be your guide at USA.gov. Subscribe to official emails. For quick and timely updates, follow @USAGov on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.