Online Dating Safety: 6 Ways To Prevent A Scam
The Internet is increasingly being a legitimate means of meeting someone for a real-life connection. This also applies in the search for Mr and Ms Right. However, sometimes in our excitement to meet and date somebody we met online, we tend to forego personal safety. Take note that while meeting people on the Internet is fun, it can also be potentially dangerous.
It’s very easy to fall prey to a good feeling, especially when you think you’ve met The One. So when the other party invites you to finally meet face to face, you tend to let your guard down thinking that you “know” the other person already. Some people are lucky and end up with either a love connection or a lasting friendship from an online meetup, but some are not so and end up in deep trouble.
How do you ensure that you are safe without hampering your chances of finally meeting the right person for you? Here are eight way to keep in mind at all times in your search for love on the Internet.
- Sign up only on reliable and reputable dating sites
There are literally thousands of websites offering to have the right mix of singles that can potentially be the love of your life. And with that vast statistic comes a huge number of fakes and frauds. There are websites that are created for the sole purpose of duping people, so even if you live in a safe neighborhood you can never really be totally protected.
To be on the safe side, depend only on the larger, more reputable dating sites, such as Tinder, OkCupid, JDate, and more, because these sites have a better system and policy in protecting your private information. Of course, being in a reputable and paid dating site is not a full guarantee of your safety, so you still need to be vigilant.
- Ensure that your personal information stays private
Being cyber secure is different from being cyber savvy. A detailed Internet search by potential dates will likely reveal your social media accounts, LinkedIn URL, office location, your home address where you “checked in,” or telephone number listed on an ad.
That said, whenever you enter any personal information online, be sure to check those boxes that say your info will be available to you only unless you purposely share it. On virtual platforms, limit the amount of information you reveal about yourself. Your security settings should be set at their maximum level and never ever allow any app to access and post your location.
- Do some sleuthing on your potential date
While you shouldn’t be revealing too much about yourself to the other person on the screen, don’t think twice about taking advantage if he or she isn’t protective of his or her info. Google your date, search for his or her social media profiles or if there’s anything posted online about this person. You’ll be surprised by the stories that can get from the results. Some people have found their dates selling an engagement ring on Ebay a few weeks before the Tinder encounter, or revealing how old they really are.
Also, checking their social media posts will give you a better sense of how they really are in person. Because people are less filtered on these platforms, you might spot some traits that are not exactly to your liking, thus, saving you and the other person from wasted time and effort.
- Talk to the other person before the meet-up
While it’s very tempting to just schedule a first date, it would be to your advantage if you talk on the phone first so you get a better feel. This is the perfect time to vet the other party and you can even ask some pretty awkward questions to see if he or she is the right fit for you. You can even ask if they’ve ever been arrested before. While you probably won’t get a 100% truth, the way the other person will react to your bold question will send off signals on whether you should push through with an actual meet-up.
- Tell a friend
If after the screening and the phone chat you find that you still like to meet this person, you must let somebody know of your plans to do so. Tell a friend or family member who you’re meeting, where it will happen, and what time you are expected to be home. For added safety, show your friend your date’s photo, contact details, and other pertinent information, just in case.
Create a signal with your friend that includes calling you in the middle of the date to check if you’re all right. If you and your date decide to switch locations, check in by phone. Do this until you are finally safe at home. This seems like a lot of work but it will certainly help guarantee your security. More importantly, if this is your first date, drive yourself home and don’t let the other person know where you live — at least not yet.
- Seek the safety of a crowd
The first date is a getting-to-know-you stage and while being by yourselves is a romantic way to start things off, it’s not practical. If you both like to go hiking, try those popular walking spots in your community; just don’t go for those remote locations where there’s nobody else and there’s no way to call for help. Better yet, choose a nice coffee shop or a restaurant that offers just the right mix of public and quiet so you can talk.
Reputable dating sites encourage their users to report people who engage in shady practices. This is not just to protect yourself but also to protect other people from possible danger. You can also block a person who is relentless in pursuing you. If after the first date you feel that a second should happen, you should still practice the same safety measures. In fact, because you are meeting a stranger, invites to your home should not happen until after five or more dates have gone by.
Remember that a person who is out to target you will put his or her best foot forward and it is really up to you to catch those signals. If you suspect anything that’s off or something that’s making you feel uneasy, don’t hesitate to cut the cord. If that person starts harrassing you, contact the site’s client services immediately or file a report with the police.