A lot of posts out there about online dating safety are aimed at women. It’s important that anyone who’s online dating has an awareness of how to stay safe for example common guidelines to follow and the risks associated with online dating, as they are applicable to both sexes and regardless of sexual preference.
Online dating has lost the stigma it once had, the number of people who start their relationship online has seen a huge surge of the last 5-10 years. Dating sites and the more recent popular dating apps have helped to increase it’s popularity, with a lack of time and opportunity more people are turning to online dating to find a relationship.
Online Dating Stats
- 1 in 5 relationships start online.
- Online dating is the second most popular way to meet someone.
- It’s estimated that there are over 8000 dating websites worldwide.
- 81% of people lie about their age, height and figure.
Dating in general is a minefield! But dating online adds a few more mines, firstly we’ll take a look at some of the common risks involved with online dating and then move on to discuss what you can do to protect yourself in terms of online dating safety. It’s important to remember that the majority of people online are genuine and honest with their information and reasons for being there. However it’s equally important to be aware that sometimes people aren’t and that you need to be aware of how to keep yourself, your bank account and savings safe and protected whilst meeting people online
The most common risks encountered, which continue to increasingly occur in terms of online dating safety involve cyber stalking, sexual harassment, identity theft and the unauthorised use of videos and photos.
- Personal Safety – Meeting someone online is very different to actually meeting someone in person, do not rush things, build up trust and trust your instincts. Always make sure you meet somewhere public and someone knows who you are with. Maybe even use a personal safety app to check in or to alert your friends if in trouble.
- Romance fraud – Unfortunately there are scammers out there that prey on vulnerable, lonely people. We’ve all seen them in the newspapers. We’ve all seen the stories about lonely people being conned into paying out hundreds even thousands in money scams to their online love to pay for a plane ticket only to never see that money or hear from them again… and we’ve all thought the same.. How gullible! How did they not see that one coming?
- Identity theft -Don’t disclose personal information that could possibly be misused and lead to your identity being stolen.
- Cyber stalking – Cyber stalking involves harassing and stalking someone over the internet. Just like stalking it is a criminal offense. It can take on many forms such as email, instant messages, phone calls, and other communication devices to stalk.
- Webcam blackmail – This has become quite a sting and is very lucrative to scammers. Video or photo-stills taken from webcams are recorded without consent and are used to blackmail and extort money. Webcam blackmailers will threaten to release the footage to family and friends if extortion money is not paid.
- Being defrauded – There are a growing number of dating sites that are fake. Many people sign up and join, paying a fee to a fake agency. Always check the site or agency you join is a member of the Online Dating Association, as they are regulated and will have to follow an industry code of practice.
- Phishing emails – These are emails that appear to be from a trusted online dating site. They might perhaps be offering discounted membership or some sort of offer to entice you to hand over personal details such as your bank or credit card information.
Online Dating Safety Tips
Below are a number of important tips we think are good to follow and put into practice to improve your online dating safety.
Online name – Choose a safe online name, one that doesn’t identify you, where you are or your age. Avoid using a provocative username as this may attract the wrong attention.
Stay local – Only communicate with people that are local to you. It is much easier to scam someone from a distance, as it’s much easier to get caught out.
Separate email and phone numbers – Have a specific email account for your online dating, keep it separate from your work and personal accounts. Use an app like Google voice for that lets you create an exclusive number for dating that redirects to you mobile.
Personal information – Stay in control of how much information you share, it’s impossible to get it back once you’ve handed it out. Only use the dating sites messaging, mail or chat, it is safer as it monitored and controlled. Don’t give out your real phone number, email or address until you’ve met this personal and feel comfortable doing so.
Background research – We aren’t talking about a full police background check but before going on a date google search your date’s name. Scammers will steal photos from social media so check that what you see is what you’ll get by using an app like Tineye. This app will check your potential date’s photo and show you where else it appears online.
Grammar and spelling – Scammers are often from abroad so be wary of odd language and bad spelling and grammar.
Hardship stories – Don’t fall for hardships stories! Stop communicating with anyone who pressures you into disclosing your personal and financial information. Report it immediately to your dating provider.