It’s summertime. The weather is warmer, the days seem longer, and love is in the air – or, in some cases on the internet.

The popularity of online dating sites, as well as various social media platforms, has given scammers more avenues to target potential victims. By creating fake profiles they can pretend to be anyone and make themselves appeal to all types of people.

Online dating scams require scammers to be patient. They take their time to build a victim’s trust, convincing them that they’re building a relationship instead. With a perceived emotional connection built over time, it can be difficult for some to recognize what’s really going on.

The specifics may vary, but all online dating scams have the same goal: to convince victims to send money or to get access to their financial information. Once they think they’ve earned your trust the scammer may directly ask for money, usually due to some kind of urgent hardship.

Another key indicator of a scam is a request for your online banking credentials to deposit checks or funds into your account, only to wire or otherwise transfer those fraudulent funds shortly after. They may also ask you to convert their fraudulent deposit into cash or gift cards to send them. Either way, the scammer will leave you responsible for the deficit.

Contact your financial institution immediately if you think you’ve been a victim of this type of scam. In most instances changing your online banking credentials will protect you from further fraud; however, if account information was given out the account will need to be closed and all debit and credit cards associated with the account will need to be blocked.

Whether for romance or any other reason, don’t ever give out your personal information - including account numbers, credit card numbers, or online banking credentials - to someone you recently met online.