With technology constantly on the rise and the average person’s everyday life getting busier more and more people are turning away from traditional dating methods and heading towards online dating sites to find their soul-mates. Unfortunately it seems like for every successful story about online dating there are five more horror stories about it going horribly wrong. Below we’ve outlined 5 ways that you can help keep yourself safe from online predators while searching for your mate- don’t become a victim!
1) DON’T GIVE MONEY
This is one of the most important things to remember about online dating, so we’ll tackle it first- DON’T GIVE MONEY! It seems innocent at first. That wonderful person you met online a few months ago wants to meet up but doesn’t have the cash to travel so you send them a little money. Suddenly you get a phone call when you’re standing at the bus station to pick them up telling you that some emergency situation popped up so they missed the bus- could you possibly send a little more money for another ticket? And, then an emergency comes up at home and their power is going to be turned off if you don’t send them enough money to help them out. Always guard your finances against unscrupulous people online and offline!
2) WATCH FOR RED FLAGS
Is that great guy or gal online is just too good to be true? Chances are you’re right! A common problem with online dating is something called catfishing– or someone pretending to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities for themselves. A catfish will use fake photos, names, and social media profiles to fool people online for a variety of reasons ranging from personal entertainment to financial gain.
The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself! Watch for red flags such as your potential mate asking for money, refusing to video chat with you, or a profile photo that looks like she or he is a professional model. If you suspect their photos may be fake be sure to run a reverse image search, which will show you any other places online that the same photo is found.
3) DON’T POST SENSITIVE INFORMATION
One of the best ways to keep yourself safe online is to keep your private information private. While you may feel an instant connection to someone you’ve met on a dating site that’s no excuse for instantly sharing personal information before you can be sure they are who they say they are. Even sharing the name of your workplace can put your privacy in jeopardy- once that information has been shared contacting you in ways other than through the dating site becomes far too easy.
4) GET A BACKGROUND CHECK
The Internet can be a scary place, but it also offers invaluable tools for keeping yourself safe. One of the most important things to remember before considering an in-person meeting with your online date is to get a background check. A background check can help you make sure that your new potential beau is who they say they are and that there are no skeletons in their closet such as a criminal record or a history of frequent evictions. You can search for information by name, phone number, or even address. You might be pretty surprised at what’s lurking in your lover’s past!
5) MEET PUBLICLY
So you’ve talked and texted for a while, checked out their background, and now you want to meet in person. That’s wonderful, but don’t give up on taking extra safety precautions just yet! When you decide to have that first in-person date, meet in a public place. While you may feel a strong connection to a person online you must remember that you haven’t actually met this person face to face and need to maintain a level of caution. Until you’ve become more acquainted in person be sure to hang out in public places together, and to always make sure that you let a friend know where you’ll be and who you’ll be with. Never let the person you’re seeing walk you home on the first couple of dates. After all, even if the person you’re seeing has no criminal motives you still can’t be sure they’re not a creep!
Now we want to hear from you- do you have any tips for making searching for your soul-mate online safer or online dating stories? Share them with us below in the comments!