How to Stay Safe Online
We can all agree that it’s a must to stay safe online regardless of the site you’re dealing with, and more so in an online dating or social networking site. Of course, it is normal to really get excited and find a date online, right? But, many people think they already know much about dating sites and become unwanted victims of online scammers. Don’t be one of them. Because we care about you, we have pulled the most practical tips to help you safeguard yourself from the dangers of dealing with online dating sites. You don’t have to be hard on yourself to stay safe online because you just have to behave as you would do in an actual setting or real life. Let’s get started!
Watch Out! The Danger is Real!
Before creating your account, you’ll be asked to agree to certain terms and conditions, and it’s essential to read the fine print to know what you’re about to deal with. Basically, you would share your personal information and your data will be used to find your best matches. Know the extent of how your data will be utilized, such as the information that will show up to your potential matches including your photos, location, age, marital status, and job among others.
As much as you want to get a real date as soon as possible, it is wise to know the ways to stay safe online. Social networking sites also have the same problems, so legitimate companies are doing their best to ensure they have a solid and strong identity verification process to help protect their members while using their services. Check how an online dating site handles the safety of their members. Do they have a strict verification process? What are the safety features they’re offering for free accounts and paid subscribers? For instance, Match.com offers blacklisting, blocking, and hiding features as well as innovative verification tools to help protect their users against unscrupulous profiles. They also have a badge system, wherein accounts verified and integrated through social media receive a badge to help build a user’s credibility to their potential matches.
Remember that fraudsters know the characteristics of their potential victims, and while you’re looking for true love, you might end up being trapped and blackmailed if you’re not cautious enough. Take time to analyze the other person’s details, and think before you respond. Check for the clues and be observant. If you want to stay on top of online dating, follow the online dating safety tips and tricks we’ll share with you.
Manage Your Privacy Settings
You can protect yourself by managing your privacy settings. Don’t divulge too much details and never give any financial information. If the person seems trying to ask a lot of personal and financial information directly or indirectly, delete the profile and move on. With Tinder, one way to sign up is through your Facebook account, which means you are giving Tinder a full access to your Facebook profile. There’s a chance that you may receive a lot of unwanted friend requests or be matched awkwardly with someone you know. That’s why we highly advise managing your Facebook privacy settings to make yourself unsearchable from the public. Online dating sites say they will never share your private information with other users and Facebook, but this is not the case with third-party vendors and advertisers.
Trust Your Instincts
Never ignore feelings of discomfort. Don’t allow finding-true-love desperation or a charming stranger to deny your gut feelings. It’s easy to get carried away by your feelings, most especially if you’re long been looking for a date. It is essential to gather basic information before going on a date. While it’s tempting to rush, meet, and get too overly excited, you can trust your instincts but avoid giving in too much. Leaving a paper trail is a safe step to ensure your safety. One of the biggest advantages of the online world is being able to verify another person’s identity through social media channels. At the very least, it will give you a peace of mind before meeting your date. If you are in doubt about a person’s profile, delete it, stay safe, and then move on. Always keep in mind that it’s not your obligation to meet anybody no matter how long you have been chatting. Don’t allow yourself to be under pressure of any sort.
Always do a fast check. Utilizing the search engine, like Google, allow you to check a person’s identity. Google has a “search by image” feature that uses the same photo to check multiple Facebook profiles.
In your browser, open images.google.com and click the photo icon, then paste the photo you want to search. Scammers usually use images that were stolen from public profiles so they will show up on different sites with different names. If the person who is messaging you is not the only one claiming to have such a face, it’s likely a fake account. Raise a red flag for Facebook accounts with low friend counts, just recently created, no tags, no tag links, and photos don’t include friends, family members, or random activities. Even if Google searches do not bring up suspicious results, you can always order a background check if you’re uncertain. The person who has your best interest will surely appreciate your effort if these proactive steps are discovered later on.
Embracing your inner stalker is beneficial at this point because you don’t know exactly the person you’re dealing with, so you need to gather as much information possible just to be 100% sure that you’re communicating or you’re building a relationship with a real person with purest intentions. Aside from Google, you can check a profile on LinkedIn. You can also investigate the old-fashioned way. If the person says he works in a local library, then give it a call. As simple as that!
Technology is Your Buddy
The internet is now providing a number of tools so you can video call without requiring you to hand out your email address or Skype ID. For instance, e-Harmony.com offers SecureCall, which allows users to contact via the e-Harmony app through calling and sending messages without giving out their personal phone number. You can use a separate email address intended for your social media accounts and online dating profiles. By doing so, you can safeguard your personal and work email addresses against scammers. Be wary opening links and attachments of unknown sources because these are more likely cyber-attack methods strategies.
When you are meeting someone, make sure to always arrange your first date in a neutral place. Remember that you’re still meeting a stranger even if you’ve been chatting for months now. Don’t accept a dinner invite in a private place like the person’s pad. The same is true if you’re offered to be picked up from your apartment. Your date doesn’t need to know your home address within 24 hours of knowing you. It is better to arrange a morning date. While dates are traditionally set after dark, it is not unusual to suggest a morning date. A day date, such as meeting for a brunch or grabbing a bite during a lunch break, can give you a good excuse to get away as needed.
Tell a Trusted Friend
You probably heard about real-life stories about online relationships turned to convictions as a result of internet scams. Spreading the news means giving your closest friends a little insight about the person you’ll be meeting, most especially if you’re a woman. Let them know the name of the person you are meeting and where you’re planning to go. It would be nice to send a quick text just to update them of your whereabouts as well.
It is easy to play around and keep secrets when the relationship is purely online. The other person can pretend to be somebody he is not. If the distance is too far away or there’s a great obstacle to meet up soon, at the very least employ a video communication, like Skype. A relationship has no future if the person always makes excuses to meet up in person or engage in Skype. Also, too good to be true profile descriptions are more likely threads of lies. Beware of people claiming to have a luxury yacht, a lottery winner, or a CEO of a multinational company. You can always ask a follow-up question if you find anything unbelievable or sounds strange.
The first meeting is not really a date but a verification session, and it will tell you whether you’re comfortable enough for a second date. You can start with a daytime coffee meeting at a strict time limit, so it won’t be a surprise when you decide to leave. It’s always advisable to meet in a neutral public place not close to your home. Majority of scammers live in different cities worldwide, and the fact that your match agrees to have a coffee meeting with you us already a good sign. It’s even better if you’re able to set a meeting in a group event.
Watch Your Heart
It is easy to fall for someone you have never met yet, and you become too vulnerable if you are too eager to find a date or you just broke up with your ex. Go slow and be extra careful of premature declarations of romantic love or special requests for sexy photos. It is your right to request proof of the person’s real identity and don’t hesitate to ask any questions. Surely, genuine users are willing to provide a foolproof evidence to prove their claim. According to statistics, people who are over 50 or seniors are highly targeted by scammers and they lose more money than younger users.
When it comes to online dating, the biggest risks include being defrauded or being sexually assaulted on a date. Because scammers can impersonate someone else, they can easily invent stories and lure victims to their wants. The most common scam stories include asking a victim to wire them money because they’re abroad without means to get money from their own account, or got into some sort of trouble.
The Golden Rule
“Thou shall not give any of your personal information or financial to someone you only met online!”
Use Trusted and Reputable Dating Sites
There are thousands of dating sites worldwide and most of these sites are small or have a niche without resources to ensure the safety and security of their members. That’s why you should stick with trusted and established sites with clear information how your details and transactions will be safeguarded. Do they have a dedicated team for reporting fraud incidents, abuse, and other similar cases? How do they keep their communities safe? Better use a dedicated photo just for online dating sites to prevent scammers from searching you on Google and finding out more details using your social media and other online accounts.
While you don’t want to be overly suspicious about a person you just met online, it is always crucial to take steps to ensure that you protect yourself from fraudsters and scammers. Always have a backup plan and base your instincts with facts. Online dating sites are the latest and most modern way to meet your special someone, and your successful search starts by staying safe online.
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