Online dating alert: the new phishing scam to avoid

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“Phishing” may sound like a nice way to spend a day on a boat, but it’s actually a form of email trickery to get you to reveal your personal information to criminals. Most commonly, you’ll receive an email that purports to be from a real company, asking you to click on a link and confirm your password, social security number, or other data. The scammers can then use your password to attempt to break into your account on other sites, including banks or other services and infect your computer with malware.

According to Naked Security, there’s a new phishing scam that uses Match.com branding to convince people to click on a link to “resolve a security problem” and enter personal information:

Once you click the link, the site really doesn’t look much like Match.com:

images courtesy Naked Security

The ultimate lesson in this is not to click on links in an unsolicited email, no matter how familiar the sender seems. If you receive an email like this, you’re better off opening a new browser tab and going to Match.com for more information, or to contact their support staff.

Another dating site password leak…

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This time from eHarmony, it appears:

“After investigating reports of compromised passwords, we have found that a small fraction of our user base has been affected,” eHarmony said in a blog post. “We are continuing to investigate but would like to provide the following actions we are taking to protect our members.”

Via PCMag.com. Apparently there were 1.5 million passwords leaked.

Between the MilitarySingles password leak, and the LinkedIn leak that occurred simultaneous with this one, are you taking more care with your passwords? I’ve started using a trick I learned on Lifehacker to create unique passwords for every site using a combination of letters from the name of that site – I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to change all my passwords again!

How many strikes until you’re done with online dating?

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In the Los Angeles Times, Nicole Christopher writes that after three (admittedly awful) online dating experiences, she’s sworn it off:

He stood me up a second time but called six hours later. That prompted me to start digging. I found out that Leigh didn’t live where he said he did. He wasn’t technically divorced, and “Leigh” was one of several names he used. I didn’t know who I was dating. I was done.

What would have to happen to completely turn you off of online dating?

Shocking user-created content on dating sites!

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Sites like OKCupid let potential daters upload their own questions for themselves and others to answer. But what happens when the questions reveal more than the answers? Teresa Johnson at The Horn shares some doozies:

“No means NO!”

To me, this isn’t a question up for discussion. And the only user response I consider acceptable is “Always. Period.” But there are three other possible responses that chill me to the bone:

-“Mostly, but occasionally it’s really a Yes in disguise.”

-“A No is just a Yes that needs a little convincing!”

-And “Never, they all want me. They just don’t know it.”

I would hope that the site she’s referring to allows her to see which user uploaded this question, so she can steer FAR clear of him – and suggest other women do the same.

Have you ever seen something on a dating site that made you say “oh HELL no”? Share it with the crowd!

How strong is your online dating password?

Secure Password of the Week

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The hacking of military dating site MilitarySingles.com has been examined, and while the crux of the security weakness came from the site’s upload architecture and poorly protected data, customers made themselves especially vulnerable by using weak passwords:

Visualization of MilitarySingles.com passwords

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How secure is the password you’re using on an online dating site? Test yours on the How Secure Is My Password? site, and if you get a poor rating, try adding numbers or other special characters, or try another tool.

Dating online is hard enough without the world finding out that your OKCupid.com password is “loveskittens”!

5 essential tools for safe dating

Circle of 6

Circle of 6 app screenA simple, two-touch way to create a circle of trusted friends who can pick you up if you need a ride, interrupt a crappy date, or apply the clue-by-four when you need it. They even won the White House’s “Apps Against Abuse” challenge last year:

Cost: Free.

Availability: iPhone only.

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de BeckerIt seems strange to include a dead-tree book in a list of “tools”, but this is one of the best resources for women to keep themselves safe, whether you’re dating or not.

Cost: Used copies sell for $5, or you can check it out from your local library for free.

Availability: Libraries and bookstores.

Streetsafe

Streetsafe appWhen was the last time you were walking to your car or waiting for the train somewhere sketchy, and just wanted the safety of having someone on the phone? While I haven’t talked to anyone who’s shelled out the $20 a month for this app, Jezebel has.

Cost: $19.99 per month, or $149.99 per year.

Availability: Wherever your cell phone works.

Life360

Life360 app screensAnother app that uses your phone’s GPS for good instead of evil, Life360 uses data and SMS to let you check in with your family, and even has a panic button and a sex offender registry.

Cost: Free, although there’s a premium version as well.

Availability: iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

Bad Date Rescue

Bad Date Rescue appMore of a laugh than a serious safety app from eHarmony. Still who doesn’t like the idea of being able to set a “rescue” timer for a date quickly going downhill?

Cost: Free.

Availability: iPhone and iPad only.

What do women want from online dating?

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It’s pretty commonly accepted at this point that when it comes to dating, men and women are different. We have different priorities, different criteria, and above all, different concerns.

A man might be afraid that the woman he meets online turns out to be ten years older and twenty pounds heavier than her photo. Women are afraid of violence, stalkers, or worse.

That’s why I bang my head on my desk (or the bar) every time I read a male app developer talking about how women will love his app because it’s purple.

Honey, if that’s all it took, Nordstrom would be full of Barney the Dinosaur purses.

Online dating sites and apps succeed or fail on whether or not women use them. So what do women want from a dating site or app? Here’s what my anecdata holds, and what app developers can learn from it.

Control

Women tend to be more cautious about how exposed they are than men. When the excrement hit the air conditioning over the Girls Around Me app, the women I knew split into two distinct camps – those who were younger, more jaded about online privacy, and less worried about what potential stalkers would do with this information; and those who make a habit of periodically locking down their Facebook privacy settings as a matter of digital hygiene. The lesson for women is that any app that encourages you to “check in” probably uses an API (application programming interface) that allows developers of other apps to display that information in whatever way they see fit.

Takeaway: Let women control who can view their profile information, including photos, no matter how innocuous that information may seem to men.

Privacy

A friend of mine called it the “Preparation H problem” – no one is going to “Like” the Preparation H page on Facebook because they don’t want their friends to know they have hemorrhoids. Similarly, no one – especially women – wants their friends and family to know that they’re trolling for tail on the internet.

Takeaway: Don’t force users to log in to your app using Facebook, even if you promise not to post to their Facebook walls.

Quality

Craigslist is the shortbus of online dating. That’s because there’s no quality control, no requirements, and no guidance on what daters should include based on best practices and research. Women spend more than 50% longer than men reading profiles, yet most of the “m4w” ads on Craigslist lack basic information. The more data we have, the more comfortable we are – and there are already too many horror stories about women being harmed by their online suitors.

Takeaway: Encourage all users, but especially men, to fill out their profiles thoroughly with completion bars and percentages or “badges” or other gamification tools.

What lies have you told in an online personal ad?

Liars sign

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If you’re online dating, it’s a safe assumption to add 20 pounds to a woman’s weight and subtract 2 inches from a man’s height. Brian Moylan at Vice agrees with me. Best quote:

Dating websites are like reality shows: no one is there to make friends.

I’ll admit to exaggerating how social I am, but haven’t (had to) lie about my weight, cultural cred, or penis size. Ahem. Although, Brian? I actually do listen to Mozart, so there.

What’s the most inaccurate thing you’ve ever put in an online dating profile?

If you have to tell me you’re a “Nice Guy”…

Mr Nice Guy graffiti

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… you really aren’t nice. Buzzfeed pulls some awesomely awful quotes from self-proclaimed Nice Guys being real jerks. Case in point:

Now about me in a paragraph. Is that possible..? I am a nice guy. As a matter of fact, I think I am too nice. I think that’s part of my problem. Women say they want a nice guy but they seem to pick the douchbags. Then again, I’ve been told I’m an ***hole. So I’m probably the nicest ***hole you’ll ever meet.

I am large, I contain multitudes. Or maybe I’m just a jerk.

So what’s the jerkiest thing a so-called Nice Guy ever lobbed your way while online dating? Yours gets mine – and mine’s a doozy.

Should sex offenders be banned from internet dating?

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A law firm recently put out a press release arguing against banning sex offenders from using dating sites, as well as other web sites. What do you think – should companies like Match.com and Facebook take responsibility to remove sexual predators from their sites?

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