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Is Your Online Dream Date Looking to Steal More Than Your Heart?

New Study Reveals Online Dating Adults Do Not Adequately Protect Themselves from Fraud

IRVINE, Calif. -- The immense popularity of online dating has necessitated an increased awareness for the risk of identity theft, according to a recent survey commissioned by ProtectMyID.com([TM]), Experian's multilayered identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution product. According to this survey, nearly 50 percent of respondents involved in online dating do not take steps to verify the authenticity of a potential match prior to engaging in communication.1 This makes the online dating field ripe for identity theft. Imagine meeting the ideal partner online and then discovering that his or her only motivation is to swindle a loan or bank account information from an unsuspecting party. Shockingly, nearly 10 percent of respondents provided Social Security numbers or bank account information to individuals met online. In the often daunting world of online dating, users must be cautious and informed at every turn.

February is synonymous with love, and this motivates many singles to explore online dating. Unfortunately, new and existing cyberdaters may not be taking the proper steps to protect themselves from potential fraud. From paid online services to chatrooms, message boards and virtual communities, users have many choices for finding that special someone via the Internet. While a high percentage of individuals fail to properly scrutinize potential matches prior to engaging in communication, many compound this issue by divulging too much personal information at a very early stage. From birth dates and addresses to phone numbers and even bank account details, the flow of information is alarmingly high in the online dating world.

"The popularity of online dating has opened the floodgates of opportunity for identity thieves eager to capitalize on the vulnerability of individuals looking to make a personal connection," said Jennifer Leuer, general manager of ProtectMyID.com. "Taking the correct precautionary measures in tandem with the utilization of a service such as ProtectMyID.com to safeguard personal information will go a long way in providing protection from online identity theft."

Many online daters readily share a wealth of valuable personally identifiable information (PII) with strangers. For example, 30 percent of adults surveyed were quick to provide their home address, and nearly 75 percent disclosed their birth date to potential matches online.

This type of PII can be used to facilitate identity theft. Further, people who give bank account or credit card information to others online enable identity thieves not only to use that information for personal gain, but also to sell it online.

"A key tool in the ProtectMyID.com arsenal is daily Internet scanning," said Leuer. "If a member's information does appear on villainous sites or chatrooms that specialize in trafficking stolen card numbers, the member is alerted to the situation so that the appropriate protective actions can be taken."

In addition, ProtectMyID.com has compiled a list of tips for online daters to safeguard their information from potential identity thieves:

* Stay mysterious at first. Don't disclose personally identifiable information with a prospective dating match until there is an established level of familiarity and trust. This also includes your hometown, home addresses, work specifics, phone numbers, educational background and information about children via profiles and through photo identification.

* Limit profile detail. Avoid posting personally identifiable information on your online dating profiles, including but not limited to hometown, home addresses, work specifics, phone numbers, educational background and information about children via profiles and through photo identification.

* Play detective. Don't assume that a prospective dating match will always be truthful. Ask a person to tell you about himself or herself; you then can conduct a little background work on sites like LinkedIn([R]), Facebook([R]) or Google([TM]) to see if conflicting information exists. Also, be wary of any requests for financial loans or assistance of any kind.

* Create the perfect password. For online dating profiles, do not use passwords that incorporate publicly known information.

About ProtectMyID.com([TM])

ProtectMyID.com is a leading, full-service provider of proactive identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution. ProtectMyID.com offers comprehensive identity theft protection products supported by experienced identity theft resolution professionals who deliver personal attention that customers can rely on. ProtectMyID.com is a Website owned by ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. For more information about how ProtectMyID.com helps consumers protect themselves against identity theft, please visit http://www.ProtectMyID.com.

About Experian

Experian([R]) is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 65 countries. The company helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2009, was $3.9 billion. Experian employs approximately 15,000 people in 40 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; Costa Mesa, California; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

For more information, visit http://www.experianplc.com.

Experian and the marks used herein are service marks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

1 Survey conducted by Impulse Research in February 2010
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Feb 11, 2010
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