BE SAFE ONLINE: Tips for keeping yourself safe when dating online

The anonymity of the Internet makes dating sites easy places for con artists to find victims. But don’t let that deter you. According to Online Dating Magazine, more than 120,000 marriages occur yearly as a result of online dating. You just have to know how to play safe so as to avoid being scammed by the few unscrupulous characters.

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Here are a some tips for safe online dating:

  1. The first advice I will give you is to never assume that the person you see on the online dating site is telling the absolute truth. Assume everyone you meet online is dishonest until proven to be honest.
  2. Use a reputable dating website. Check the copyright date at the bottom. Check for certification of trust. Make sure it has a privacy link that specifically states it will not sell your information to anyone. Steer clear of any site that expects you to use your own email address for communication. Read their “terms and conditions”. This should tell you if they filter member profile content for racial, hate or sexually offensive material.
  3. Set up a free email account with Gmail or Hotmail to use just for internet dating. Use only your first name in the “From” field. Giving away your real email address gives the person the ability to search for information about you.
  4. Don’t provide your full name, your home address or phone number too soon. Even when you are ready for verbal communication and you decide to give out your phone number, it’s safer to give out your cell phone number instead of your home number.
  5. Be very selective with pictures you use on your profiles. Make sure there are no names or signs in the pictures that may give out more information about you like the name of your school, the city you live in, your street address etc.
  6. Keep copies of your email communications and check for inconsistencies. Do they avoid your questions? When you ask them politely about the inconsistencies – do they respond angrily, defensively or laugh it off? If yours answer is yes then cease communication with them and move on to someone else.
  7. When going on your first date, make sure you meet in a public place. Avoid secluded areas like parks.
  8. Provide your own form of transportation to the public meeting place and if your date offers to drive you home kindly decline it.
  9. Always let someone know where you are going. Better still have a friend accompany you. For example if you are meeting at a restaurant, your friend can sit at another table or at the bar while you meet your date.
  10. Try to avoid taking alcohol on your first date.  Alcohol tend to affect our judgment and lessen our inhibitions. If you decide to drink, avoid getting drunk and always keep your drink in sight at all time.
  11. Listen to your gut. If you are just meeting for the first time and you feel something isn’t right leave immediately.

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