With yet another Valentine’s Day come and gone, many online dating businesses are likely benefiting from the rise in people signing up to their services, spurred on by the day of love. Whether it’s someone looking for ‘the one’ or simply inspired by the romance in the air last week, nowadays, searching for love often starts at the first swipe.

However, it’s not just singletons that are hoping to get lucky – cybercriminals are also on the prowl for vulnerable targets. And while a broken heart can hurt, financial fraud associated with online romance scams can hurt more. This more sinister side of online dating was exacerbated by the pandemic, with losses to romance fraud reaching £73.9m in the April 2021 lockdown, according to Action Fraud.

As such, for online dating sites, verifying that users are who they claim to be is paramount in reducing the risk of romance scams, building an ecosystem of trust and ensuring a safe platform for their users. Moving away from outdated methods of verification can not only help to mitigate financial fraud and catfishing but can also go a long way in protecting minors through accurate age verification processes.

Swiping left on the 21st Century scammer

As technology advances, it comes as no surprise that so too do cybercriminals. With more and more of our lives now interdependent on online technologies – including our personal relationships – it is vital that dating sites take adequate precautions against the increased associated risks.

As recent Netflix documentary ‘The Tinder Swindler’ revealed, scammers have taken catfishing and financial fraud to a whole new level. Now a sole cybercriminal may steal millions of dollars from a network of victims, just by striking up a conversation and gaining trust on a dating site. Although most cybercriminals may be less elaborate in their schemes, it’s crucial that dating platforms fact-check the information a user is providing in order to mitigate financial risks for legitimate users.

Can’t help falling in love with biometrics

Trust is not only a key component of a lasting relationship — it’s also crucial to the success of online dating, and it starts when someone creates a new account.

Dating sites and apps need to move away from outdated methods of verification so they can prove that those joining the site are genuinely who they claim to be. Biometric-based identity verification technology can automatically establish the digital identity of a user through the simple act of taking a selfie. When opening a new account, the user will be asked to take a picture of their passport or other government-issued ID, followed by a corroborating selfie, from which a biometric template is created. Personal information, such as date of birth, is extracted from the ID and can be used to calculate the current age of the person creating the account — this is particularly important when it comes to protecting minors online, as our research found that over half of UK age-restricted sites believe minors have at some stage accessed or bought their products or services. 

Advanced face recognition and selfie technology then compare the ID and the selfie to quickly and securely verify a user’s identity. Going one step further, certified liveness detection can also thwart the many well-documented vulnerabilities in less robust liveness technologies which are susceptible to spoofing.

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The take home

Online dating platforms know that their users are looking for love, not looking to get burned. Therefore, they can go one step further in helping them find this. By implementing face-based biometric verification solutions, online daters can focus on finding meaningful relationships and not worry about the identity of who they are engaging with.

Taking a more considered approach to building trust on their platforms, online dating sites can leverage the power of biometric authentication, provide a hassle-free user experience and create a safe environment where users can focus on finding someone who’s only looking to steal their heart.