Tools to Protect You While Dating Online
In recent years, online dating has gained rapidly in popularity. Most people no longer see it as an odd or unusual way to meet others, and in many cases it can be a fun and convenient way to reach out and get to know other individuals, and maybe even find true love. Even though online dating no longer has the stigma it once did, this doesn't mean that people should share all sorts of personal information immediately with others. The following tips and tools will help you to stay as safe as possible when dipping your toes into the online dating pool:
Channel your inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys
Your perfect partner could be online right now...
What are you looking for?
Do some detective work on Google to find out whatever you can about the person of interest. If he or she has a very common name, it might also be a good idea to run a background check on the person. While you might not want to launch a thorough investigation of every person you encounter online, it's probably wise to check out the ones you are considering meeting in person.
Watch your Wallet
In terms of red flags, having someone you just met online ask you to send cash is a major one. According to Dr. Phil, if they ask for money, lock them out of your life. Shut off communication immediately, and close all open doors if you have a hint that it is a sympathy scam. And, if you are working with a major online dating website, report the situation to the company right away.
Be Careful what you Share
Most online dating profiles contain a made up user name, as well as some basic information about you and your interests. While some sites allow these profiles to only be viewed by paying members, others can be seen by anyone with an internet connection. Because of this, make sure your profile contains information that you are comfortable having total strangers read. Be careful about revealing where you work or where you went to school; this will help keep your real identity as safe as possible. In addition, just to be on the safe side, you might consider signing up for an identity theft protection program like Lifelock before signing up with an online dating service. keep tabs on your personal and sensitive information and alert you right away if someone is trying to use it in a nefarious way.
Meet in Public
Let's say you have done all of the detective work, and have spent hours chatting over emails and the phone with someone that you have gotten to really like. As Everyday Life notes, once you are ready to make the leap and meet the potential love interest in person for the first time, you still have to be really cautious. Let a friend know your plans, and meet in a public place that is busy enough that other people will be around, but not so enormous and impersonal that no one will notice if anything goes amiss. Find a neighborhood coffee shop or busy café as both make great choices for first meeting places. In addition, skip the wine or beer and stay sober during your first encounter with the new person, and drive yourself both ways.
Have fun dating and stay safe always.
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