Online dating is an exciting way to meet new friends and love interests, but some people don’t always use common sense when interacting online or meeting for the first time. By following a few safety guidelines and recognizing the common cons that occur in the online dating world, you can keep yourself protected.
Common Sense – When Online Dating
First, we must recognize the truth: anyone from anywhere can create a profile with a picture they found on Google image search. If anyone asks you for your personal or financial information, a huge red flag should come up. Never give out any information that identifies you to a person you don’t know. This includes your name, address, phone number, social security number, or bank account information.
Common Cons – Things to Look For
Messaging on the Internet is tough, especially in cases where you’re limited to 140 characters. If you suspect of, or come across any of the following items in the list below – chances are it might be a dating scam and you should cease contact with the person you’re talking to.
Chat is vague or doesn’t seem to match the topic of conversation, or topics change often over one message or many
Receiving immediate responses back to your private messages/e-mails could be the sign of a program that is automatically responding to you
After a quick exchange the other person tells you they wish to talk on another messaging service, or exchange e-mail addresses to talk, share pictures, or view webcam
Asks you for money because:
It’s an emergency and only you can help
They were just widowed
Wants you to donate to a “cause”
They claim to be traveling, living, working aboard, or deployed
Asks for your address so they can send you gifts (flowers, etc)
Talks about meeting or finding your profile was “written in the stars”, “destiny” or “fate”
You go to message them and find that their account is deleted, yet you see their picture under another name later on
Their photo seems unrealistic or modified in some way
If the dating website you use has a report feature and you come across any suspicious activity, report that person. It will flag the account to administrators who should personally review the account and delete it if necessary.
When You Finally Meet
Out of the many profiles online, you finally found a person you’d like to meet. Keep yourself protected by following a few guidelines:
Never have your date pick you up at your house
Tell friends and family where you’re going and what time you should be back
Keep your cell phone with you at all times
Meet in a public place with lots of people
Stay sober or drink with caution
Don’t assume the person you’re with is safe
Avoid the perception of any obligation by going ‘dutch’ on the bill
Don’t bring your date back to your home, or go to theirs – go to a hotel
Use a condom
Remain alert until the date is over and you’re home safely
Keeping yourself safe both online and offline is very important. Don’t get a false sense of security or ignore these rules because you use a dating website that does background checks on its members. People with a criminal record can still get into these websites due to flaws in the background checking system – it’s not perfect. Stay safe when dating, and have fun!