Online dating is a fantastic way to meet new people. Millions of couples were formed through online dating. But just like any form of dating, you need to take precautions when getting to know someone new. Knowing these online dating safety tips will allow you to enjoy the fun and excitement of meeting that special someone. Here is a great starting point to knowing how to develop safe online dating (and any dating) habits to meet quality people who are who they say they are. Knowledge is power!
About What Your Online Dating Site Does:
- Verification Services. This allows users to verify their identity for an additional fee. Zoosk and eHarmony do this and once verification is created, it creates a “badge” for your profile. The badge basically identifies that user are who they say they are. Good idea for men to get this to help women feel better about them.
- Background Checks. Don’t be surprised that these are NOT done by dating websites unless they explicitly say so. You must do background checks yourself and there are many services that offer them. Background checks are a good starting point but not an ending point. Don’t let a passing background check offer a false sense of security. Just because the past looks clear could just mean they didn’t get caught or maybe you are the first. Don’t be offended if a potential date asks for this. And it isn’t just for guys; women can be predators too (they may not seem physically threatening but you can get your identity stolen and a whole mess of other white collar problems from a femme fatal).
- Linked Accounts. Some sites/apps link to your Facebook where you have to have at least 50 friends or doesn’t register you as a user. This helps prevent people from making “fake” profiles. While it doesn’t reveal your Facebook details (like full name), these services will often reveal mutual friends.
In Your Online Dating Profile:
- Guard your personal details. Be mindful in your online dating profile not to list details about where you go/what you do/ where you work. For example, “Every Friday me and the girls love to hit up trivia at Gallagher’s!” Bad idea. A predator could see this and know where to find you without you ever suspecting. The same goes for where you work. “I’m a Nurse at St. Jo’s in the pediatric unit,” should not be included in your profile.
- Your Pictures Should Only Be Used on the Dating Site. Pictures are necessary for online dating but unfortunately they can also be used to get information about you. How? It’s called Google image search. Any image from a dating site and be dragged onto a desktop, then from there, it can be moved into a Google image search. In a Google image search, Google finds anywhere else on the web that picture shows up. In other words, your facebook profile, Linked In, work website, etc. The lesson? The photos on your online dating profile should only be for online dating. And at the very least, make sure your privacy setting on any social media accounts are private to anyone who does not know you.
While Communicating Online:
- Financial information is never shared. -Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give out your credit card, bank information, or Social Security number to anyone ever and you will probably never have your money stolen. It’s that easy! I don’t care how much you care about them and how hard-up or dire their circumstance is as a displaced Nigerian Prince. Just don’t do it or be prepared to never see your money or hear from the person you care so much about.
- Don’t Disclose Your Full Name. Never give out your full name to an online dating suitor. My own boyfriend made this mistake in our online exchanges. Knowing his first and last name, I could find him on Facebook, Linked In and I could Google him. Loads of info flooded me about a guy I had never laid eyes on. Don’t let this happen to you. It gives a wealth of knowledge that you don’t want to make accessible right away.
About Your Potential Date:
- Catfishing or Too Good to Be True. If your date seems too beautiful or good to be true, they may be. This is where the Google image search can help you identify Catfishers. Use the picture search tool to look up if the pictures they use of themselves are stolen from someone or somewhere else.
- Married People Try to Cheat Online. Often married folks won’t show pictures of their faces or will offer to email you pictures. This helps them control who sees their photos so they can’t be identified by someone who knows they are married. If a suitor says they are very private or identifiable at work so they don’t want to post a picture, just be extra cautious.
- Scammers Try to Move Off the Online Dating Site Too Fast. Often people out for your money or soliciting something else use dating sites. They are very eager to move your relationship off of the online dating site and go to their own email addresses/correspondences. They do this so you can’t report their shenanigans to the dating site and get them blocked. Be careful scammers love to go on free dating sites, they usually won’t pay to be on the rest.
Getting to the Date:
- Protect Your Phone Number. Want to protect your numbers? Dial *67 before you dial a number to block your information from showing up on caller-id. You can also register for a Google number which you can forward calls /texts to your actual phone number for free. Some dating sites like Match even offer phone-calling services that protect your actual phone number. Why would you want to do that? People who have your phone number can harass you through your phone. If that ever happens, you sometimes have to change your phone number. But if you use Google or a similar service, you can just stop the service and never worry about it.
For the Actual Meeting/Date:
- Drive Yourself. When meeting for the initial date, never give someone your address to pick you up.
- Always Meet in a Public Place with other people around and never leave to go somewhere alone. Do not go back to someone’s home you don’t know or bring this person back to your home. Try to plan dates where you can leave if you feel uncomfortable (ie, don’t go on a boat cruise).
- Guard Your Drink, Always. Never leave it unattended. Roofies and date rape drugs still exist.
- Don’t Over Indulge on your Drinking. Keep your wits about you and get home safely.
- Tell Friends and Family where you are and the important details about the person you are meeting, just in case. Call them when you get home. It’s also a good idea to have a funky code word that you give to let them know you are safe. “I’m home, pencil shavings.”
I hope these online dating safety tips are useful to you on your journey to meeting someone. It’s not about being scared but it’s always important to be informed and making good decisions. Do you have any other online dating safety tips I missed? Comment below and help keep other safe.