Identity Theft

The Worst Date Ever?

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A Colorado man was arrested after he allegedly went to a woman’s house under the guise of a date and stole her identity. Investigators believe Joseph White Jr., 32, may have used the same routine on multiple women, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

White is said to have met the woman on dating site lotsofish.com (not to be confused with the larger site Plenty of Fish), and when she invited him to her home, he arrived with less-than-romantic intentions. The woman, whose name was not released, said White stole her bank account and personal information, though it is unclear what, if any, unauthorized activity resulted from the theft.

Identity theft isn’t unheard of in the online dating world. There are plenty of reports of people nurturing relationships with others with the intention of scamming them out of large sums of money, too. There’s a hint of “stranger danger” in these stories, but you’re not necessarily protected from theft just because you’re familiar with your houseguest. A personal finance site isn’t going to tell you how to date, but it’s probably a good idea to meet people in public places and get to know them before inviting them to your house.

As far as money goes, it doesn’t really matter where you find dates if you’re meticulous about protecting your assets. Of course, you shouldn’t leave your checkbook on the kitchen table, but should also monitor your credit and regularly check your bank and credit card transaction activity. Preventing fraud can be extremely difficult (you should still be careful), so make sure you know what to do if someone steals your identity or financial information.

Sudden and unexpected changes in your credit score could be signs of fraud, which are easy to spot if you monitor your credit using free tools like the ones on Credit.com. Most financial service providers also support mobile access to your accounts and allow you to set up spending alerts, making it easy to keep an eye on your finances. It’s also a smart idea to check your credit reports regularly. You can get a free copy from each of the major credit bureaus — here’s how.

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