A Publication of WTVP

One in five relationships begins online these days, says Internet dating giant As more and more romantics turn to the Web in search of their soulmates, it’s important to remember that people aren’t always who they claim to be online.

When caught up in the romance and dreaming of your future with a special someone you met online, it’s easy to forget that many people aren’t who they say they are. You may be after love while the person you’re talking to is after something else entirely—your identity.

According to a 2010 survey by Impulse Research, nearly half of online daters don’t take steps to verify the authenticity of a potential match before communicating. Jennifer Leuer of ProtectMyID reports that “nearly 10 percent of those surveyed said they had provided their Social Security numbers or bank account information to people they met online.” Even by providing information like your birth date, hometown, full name and age could give an identity thief all he or she needs to take advantage of you.

If you’re searching for love online, take extra care to leave those pieces of information out of your communications with potential matches, and do your own investigative work before replying to anyone. Look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google to see if the information they provided is accurate. To go a step further, you can sign up for identity protection services through a number of online companies to ensure you’re not taken advantage of while searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right. iBi