|Online Dating Sites for Seniors
If your e-mail in-box is anything like ours, you've probably received
at least one e-mail ad for an online dating service in the past
Aiming modern technology at the dating process is nothing new. It
has been said that every new technology introduced since the
Gutenberg Press has first been applied to the issues of sex and
religion. Although there are some non-secular specialty online
dating websites like "JewishAmericanSingles.com", online dating
can predominantly be categorized in the "sex" part of this new
Online Dating in the 19th Century
First, if we put the concept of online dating into an historical
perspective, we'll discover that the technological aspect of the
dating process isn't necessarily as exotic to today's seniors as we may imagine.
In his book, "The Victorian Internet", author Tom Standage describes an 1886 article in
Electrical World entitled "The Dangers of Wired Love". The article tells of a Brooklyn newsstand
owner, George W. McCutcheon and his twenty-year-old daughter, Maggie, who assisted him at
the newsstand. Business had become so brisk that Mr. McCutcheon installed a telegraph line to
his store and Maggie became the operator. Maggie's father soon learned she was "keeping a
flirtation" with several young men over the telegraph lines, including Frank Frisbie, a married
telegraph operator for the Long Island Railroad. Maggie telegraphed Frank an invitation to visit
her, which he accepted. Maggie's father found out and forbade the visit. Despite this, Maggie
started secretly seeing Frank. Mr. McCutcheon followed Maggie to a rendezvous with Frank,
where he threatened to "blow her brains out". Maggie had him arrested and charged with
"threatening behavior". (Does this story sound familiar to any parents presently fighting with
their teenagers over FaceBook or MySpace activity?)
The point to this amusing tale is that today's senior is probably not as awestruck about
electronic dating as we might believe; it was happening long before transistors came about!
Many Online Dating Sites for Seniors - Just as Many Risks!
Because of the contexual content of SeniorResourcesandNews.com and
the many senior-related searches we conduct, it is no wonder that we
receive e-mail ads from a surprising number of online dating services
targeting seniors. We've received ads from "SeniorMeet.com",
"AgeMatch.com", "SeniorDateFinder.com", and from the same people who
bring you Penthouse Magazine, "SeniorFriendFinder.com". There are at
least 5-10 other mainstream online dating sites for seniors.
Reasons for the Growth and Popularity of Seniors' Online Dating
There are many reasons so many online dating sites target seniors: a high
divorce rate sends many older Americans back into the dating world;
men and women are remaining active and fit well into their 80's and 90's; many seniors,
widowed and suddenly alone, seek companionship. Being able to quickly and effectively "cast a
wide net" when searching for a new friend can be very attractive to seniors. The online meeting
process is quicker and easier than more traditional forms of introduction, like church
meet-and-greets, senior center dances and outings, etc. An Internet dating site profile can often
provide much more information about a potential companion than one can glean by regularly
meeting with someone for weeks or even months. But there are downsides to online dating for
Risks of Online Dating for Seniors
Online dating sites, with such easy anonymity, is a preferred
medium of many con artists who approach seniors listed on the
site, gain their trust and then swindle them.
The FBI cites one of the reasons the elderly are commonly
earmarked for scams and frauds is that those who grew up in
the 1930's and 1940's were raised to be polite and trusting. It is
very easy for online crooks to appear sincere and trustworthy
at the safe distance of online communication. A quick review of
various online forums containing complaints about online dating sites proves not every person
running an profile ad or answering your profile ad deserves your trust.
In 2009, PR Web reported on a Google statistic demonstrating that the search terms "online
dating" and "free dating" were getting the most "hits" from online crooks in African countries.
(Not every criminal in Africa can be a Somali Pirate, after all!) The review site, DatingnMore.com,
has devoted a full page to links warning about specific types of online dating scams. There are
warning pages about Nigerian dating scams; Russian dating scams; e-mail addresses which
online dating scammers are known to use; the list goes on and on.
Don't Send Money
A typical ploy from an online dating fraudster, regardless of
point-of-origin, is to approach a senior with a profile on an online
dating site, strike up an online friendship and eventually write their
new-found "cyber pen pal" and tell them they're short on money to
pay their Internet service bill; they're afraid they won't be able to
continue chatting online unless they can raise $40 before the end
of the week. This ploy may be used once or twice on a trusting
senior, when suddenly the scam artist just disappears, leaving
the senior with a deflated sense of spirits and bank account! Sometimes the scam is more
sophisticated and the damages much greater!
Ways to Protect Yourself
In the world of online dating, seniors need to protect their hearts, their wallets and their
personal safety by following a few sound pieces of advice:
- Verify the identity of a potential "match" as completely as possible. If the profile of your
online dating site "match" does not include a photo, ask for one. If there is only one photo
and your new "match" continues to refuse or evade requests for additional photos,
chances are you're dealing with an imposter!
- Create a separate e-mail account for use as the contact e-mail address for both the
online dating site service and for any e-mail communications with your "matches".
- Use a post office box or mail service box as the billing address for your cell phone. Never
use your home phone as the contact number with the online dating service or any new-
- When creating a profile for the online dating site, or when e-mailing and communicating
with new "matches", confine yourself to a first-name basis until you're absolutely certain
the "match is a legitimate online dating subscriber.
- Never let your new "match" send you a personality quiz or some other survey to fill out
"for fun" or to "see how compatible" you two may be. Many online dating scams involve
this ploy; the quiz or survey is loaded with highly personal questions, the answers to
which allowing a clever con artist to build a solid credit profile of you.
- Never reveal your home address or any other personal information (birthplace, mother's
maiden name, your full name, etc.) to a new-found "match" until you're absolutely certain
of their trustworthiness.
Online dating is here to stay; for the most part, the fun, ease-of-use and effectiveness of the
process makes that a good news issue. However, there is nothing wrong with exercising some
caution in the process. Remember what a boxing referee advises during his pre-fight
instructions: "Protect yourselves at all times!"
|Don't Give an Online Con Artist a
Chance to Steal From You!
|"High Tech Hook
Ups" are Nothing
New to Seniors
|Not Every Criminal Operating
in Africa is a Somali Pirate
|The Google name and logo are registered trademarks of Google, Inc.; SeniorFriendFinder is a registered
trademark of Various, Inc.; all other names and logos are registered trademarks of their owners