Last updated on October 31, 2013 | by Aet Suvari0
9 tips for online dating safety
It doesn’t surprise us that there are frauds and scammers out there – after all it is the internet, a lot of unsafe things are lurking around – but we never actually believe we could fall victim to a scam.
Still, why we might consider ourselves to be way too knowledgeable to be victims of an online dating fraud, there are increasing numbers of victims in Great Britain every year. The current estimate says there are 230,000 people in Britain who have suffered from online scams with a cost of around £50 million. Not to speak about the emotional suffering that this has caused to hundreds of thousands of people.
How then can we protect ourselves and our those closest to us from falling prey to online scammers, frauds and cheats? Well, we have some tips…
1. Read up
Before you join a dating site, make sure it’s a reliable and trustworthy site and that they do their utmost to keep fake profiles at bay. Online dating is a huge business these days and wherever there’s money to be made, there are also people who want to get rich quickly. We’ve written about those dodgy schemes before and we’ve tried to point out the unsavoury practices in our dating reviews as well. Before you join a dating site we can only recommend that you do some research by reading our honest reviews to find out whether you can trust the experience that the site offers.
2. Choose your words
When you write your profile, make sure that the picture you paint of yourself is truly what you want to convey. Don’t try to sell yourself for something you’re not. Even though you could perhaps make yourself more popular and ‘dress up’ the profile, don’t do it if you don’t feel like you stay true to yourself while doing it. If you know what you want to say and how you want to say it – just do it. Don’t feel tempted to be someone you really aren’t. Also, try to focus on your strengths rather than weaknesses. While it’s good to present yourself honestly it’s wise to avoid presenting yourself as vulnerable or weak as there are certain types of scammers looking out for targets they think will be easy to manipulate.
3. Don’t be a pushover
There are all kinds of people on online dating sites and often anonymity can bring out the worst in folks. Keep that in mind when interacting online. There will always be people who think it’s OK to send you messages that are pushing the limits of acceptable behaviour if not being downright rude and offensive. Don’t worry. You don’t have to reply to each and every message – especially if they make you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable. You’re perfectly entitled to ignore aggressive, suggestive or insulting messages – nothing whatsoever wrong with that.
4. Block it
In fact, sometimes ignoring rude people online just isn’t enough. If you feel like someone just isn’t respecting your boundaries of privacy or normal human interaction, you’re probably safest to block their profiles and attempts to contact you. You can even go further than that and report them to the dating site staff if you feel in any way threatened. Don’t worry – they can’t reach you and it’s likely they will never find out who exactly reported their dodgy ways but you can save yourself – and other users – from the nuisance and disturbance if you take action against threatening users.
5. Be proactive
Instead of just sitting idle on an internet dating site, why don’t you take fate in your own hands and start sarching for a partner yourself? Browse the members, look for compatible matches and send out that first email. You should still be careful and not let your guard down but the chances of stumbling upon a nutter are far smaller when performing your own searches than being the one who’s searched.
6. First name is fine
There’s no need to be up, close and personal within days with people you’ve met online. Keep it at a first name basis. Talk to them. Get to know them. See what they’re like. Listen to their ideas. Ask questions. Maybe talk on the phone – get a feel for the person before you decide to go on a proper date. Even if there’s absolutely no reason to suspect foul play it’s still a good idea to get to know your date before the actual date. It could save you from future disappointment.
7. No address, no phone number and absolutely no money
At the risk of sounding like a broken record – don’t give out personal details of where you live or work and under no circumstances agree to give money to people who you’ve only met online. You might think you know them and that you trust them – but that’s what the scammers are all about. They establish the contact carefully and win your trust. It’s not rare that they spend six to eight months buttering you up before they strike. It’s not easy to tell yourself not to trust someone when you have grown close but that’s the way it is.
8. Meet up but meet up safely
The best way to decide whether you truly like someone and whether that someone can be trusted as a genuine dater is to meet up with them. We encourage you to do that sooner rather than later in your interactions. When should you do it and is there such a thing as meeting up too soon? Well, perhaps not during the first few days after you’ve started talking online but by all means don’t leave it as late as after few months either. Of course, it goes without saying that you should set a date in a public place and tell your friends where you’re going. You can even arrange for a friend to call you at a certain time during the date to provide you with a get out plan if you don’t feel comfortable.
9. When in trouble, ask for help
We know that the last thing you want to seem like is a fool. Especially when it comes to online dating. Because not only is it hard to accept and admit that you’ve been tricked – but it’s also your heart that’s on the line here! However, this is not the place to be coy and shy. If you have been scammed – call the police. Don’t feel ashamed, after all there are 230,000 people every year who have fallen into the same trap and perhaps you can save the next person falling victim if you act now. If you feel you’ve just been cheated or lied to – report the perpetrator to the dating site you’re using. Don’t let them get away with it. Stand up for your rights. It’s as important online as it is in real life – perhaps even more so!
Online dating safety: Conclusion
Out of all our online dating safety tips the most important advice we can give you is to be careful. A lot of sites tell you to trust your instinct and act on your gut feeling. We won’t say that – after all, when matters of the heart are in question, our instincts can go horribly wrong. So don’t trust your gut, don’t act on your instinct. Be careful instead. Think twice and make your safety your first priority by following the advice above.