When Kristin Skliba decided to try an online dating site, she never expected her picture to be part of an internet fraud.
"Why wold somebody use my face unless it was to get information out of other people," said Skliba. A friend found her picture attached to a dating site with a name that wasn't hers and a profile that she didn't recognize.
"He pulls up a profile and my pictures were now attached to a profile from somebody who was not me," said Skliba. That story doesn't surprise online privacy expert Amber Yoo with the San Diego based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
"They grab those photos and use it to start their own profile," said Yoo. "They will use it to lure a victim into eventually giving money to the scam artist."
Online website have become extremely popular over the years. Many sites attempt to protect the identity and personal information of the people on their site. But by the very nature of the site, that information is made available to other people. And that can be a problem for dating website customers.
"When people give their information to a site," said Yoo, "they might not anticipate other ways that data can be used."
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has put together a fact sheet warning dating website customers to use caution. Included in their advice:
- Read dating site's terms of service and privacy notice.
- Share Photographs with caution.
- Using a free e-mail account specifically for online dating purposes.
- Respect your instincts when giving personal information.
"It really needs to come down to how comfortable you feel with that information potentially getting out," said Yoo.
As for Kristin Skliba, she intends to think twice about what she puts into her profile.
"I was cautious," she said. "But I have been more cautious."