Online dating has never been easier and more readily available to everyone. All it takes to find a partner is an app and a willingness to try out something new.
And while online dating apps are relatively new, people have already taken a liking to them. 40 million Americans use online dating websites to find potential partners. It seems like most of the people using those apps are quite hopeful about their chances.
And why wouldn’t they be? About six in ten dating app users, or 57% to be exact, report having a generally positive experience with them. That’s quite an impressive number of satisfied users, given the popularity of online dating apps.
However, the online dating scene is not without drawbacks. While it’s a convenient way of connecting to new people, it also introduces some new issues. Interacting with strangers can get you in a lot of trouble if that’s what’s on their mind.
Online harassment, identity theft, and scams are all too common, and everyone needs to take steps to prevent those from happening. Identity theft, in particular, is on the rise.
That’s why you need to be vigilant and use all the information at your disposal. We’ll share some of the most relevant safety tips with you and show you how to keep your dating persona secure.
Online Dating Safety Tips
It’s mostly up to you to make sure your dating profile remains secure and that you stay safe in case you actually get to meet the person in real life. Our safety tips will cover:
- Choosing a website or app
- Setting Up A Profile
- Interacting Online
- Meeting in real life
First, you need to know how to choose the right website or an app to suit your needs.
Choosing A Website Or App
Naturally, you should be on the lookout for an app that comes with some pre-built safety features in it. Most apps that do care about their users’ safety will promote their safety guidelines on the sign-up page.
The more control you have over your dating app the better. Therefore, opt for those websites and apps that allow you to block and report other users. It’s the bottom line of staying safe online, and a minimum feature any social media should have. That way, you can prevent the scammers from getting a hold of your information.
Moreover, you need an app that allows you to control what personal data shows in the first place. For example, Hinge allows you to choose who can see your information, and what profiles you yourself get to see. It’s best if an app has many options to choose from. The fewer security options there are, the more your data will be exposed.
The same goes for geography settings. Your location is a useful piece of data to a matchmaking app as it shows potential partners near you. However, it’s best if you have some say over whether such data is displayed publicly. Also, take steps to ensure that the photos you use don’t reveal your real location. Delete or modify photos that could be used to locate your address.
Sometimes, you can run into escort apps posing as dating apps. They do that since escorting usually falls within the gray area legally, so they have to pretend they’re just dating sites.
Finally, don’t link your social media with dating apps, even if there is such a feature on the dating website. Do you really want strangers on dating apps to have such wide access to your personal life?
Setting Up A Profile
There are some things you should pay attention to when it comes to your online dating persona.
First of all, use a unique profile photo. A quick reverse image search on Google can lead directly to your social media if you use the same photo there. Don’t underestimate the power of search engines.
Secondly, reveal as little information as you can. There’s no need to reveal any of your contact information such as a personal phone number or email address. You should also omit your date of birth and last name as well. None of that info is crucial to you finding a date.
And suffice it to say that the last thing you should do is reveal your home address.
Once your profile is ready on the website of your choice, it’s time to find a match.
But how far should you go in your online interactions? A good rule of thumb is to stay within the confines of the dating app. As we’ve stated before, don’t give out your personal number. All communication should occur within the dating website. If you do want to talk to someone, you should get a Google number and use that instead.
Now, it’s common to share intimate photos in the online dating process. But don’t rush it. Wait until you feel like you can really trust the person on the other end, however long that takes. And don’t shy away from reporting those that you don’t trust. If someone’s acting suspicious or being offensive to you, don’t wait to report them and move on. Most commonly, people report someone who:
- Requests financial assistance
- Requests photographs
- Is a minor
- Sends harassing or offensive messages.
Most importantly, learn to avoid all the scammers. Scammers try to gain the trust of their victims in order to either steal their identity or for immediate financial gain.
They are often reluctant to share any personal information while asking for all of yours or professing love for you after two texts. They might also try to earn your trust with a sob story to make you feel sympathetic. And some will just blatantly ask for money or your account information.
All of those are red flags that should get you to stay away. If a person is attempting any of the above or can’t keep their story straight, it’s likely a scammer.
Meeting in real life
The moment has come to meet someone in real life. You’ve hit it off and now it’s time to take the next step. Before you do, however…
Do a background check on your date. That includes all social media and any other platforms or blogs they use. See what they post and what kinds of places they like to visit.
It’s also a smart idea to video chat before you meet in person. You’ll know who you’re supposed to be meeting! Regardless, you should still let someone know where you’re going and what you’re doing. Tell a friend — it’s a crucial measure to take in order to prevent something dangerous or inconvenient from happening.
In the end, the two most important rules are — go to a public place and arrange your own transportation. You’ll be much safer in an area where there are more people around. And you won’t rely on a stranger to give you a ride or find out your real home address.
The world of online dating is a new and promising one. There’s a lot of potential there for meeting incredible people and romantic partners.
But never disregard your personal safety. No matter how fun and new it feels, you should put your safety in the first place. Follow the tips above, and your online dating life can begin.