Your guide to safe online dating

safe online dating

Online dating is by far the most popular way to meet someone, and January is the busiest time of year for both new and experienced users. However, this means that it’s also a very busy time for cybercriminals, posing as suitors to steal your money or identity … or both.

Will you ask yourself:

  • How can I tell if that person is genuine or a fraudster?
  • Is that profile photo real, or is it really of a model or film star? 
  • Should I continue online dating via a normal messaging app, or SMS?
  • How about when we meet in person for the first time?

We’ve put together TEN TOP TIPS to help you keep safe

  • Choose a reputable dating site or app and don’t be tempted away from its messaging service until you’re confident your date is who they say they are, and that you completely trust them.
  • Minimise the chance of your account being hacked by using secure and uniquelogin details on dating sites and apps.
  • Check out the person, not the profile. Ask plenty of questions, think and act rationally and don’t rush into anything. This might help you avoid issues such as fraud, extortion or being used for sex.
  • Search matches by name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’, ‘romance scam’ or ‘catfish’.  Do a reverse image search to check if the profile photo is genuine or of somebody else, Start by searching ‘Search with an image on Google’.
  • Be wary of anyone who seems over keen or is rushing you, as this may be a sign that they have other motives.
  • If somebody you’ve met online asks you to send money, bank details or passwords, don’t do it, whatever their hard luck story or other reason they give for needing it.
  • Revealing personal details such as full name, date of birth, home address or names, details and locations of family members could lead to fraud, identity theft or even personal harm.
  • Sending intimate images or videos of yourself to someone you’ve met online definitely isn’t recommended. It could result in extortion or reputational damage, and you can never be sure who will get to view the content. Also remember that some relationships don’t last forever.
  • End conversations with and block anyone who tells you not to mention them to your friends and family. They may be trying to isolate you.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going before hooking up with an online date in person for the first time. Arrange your own transport to and from the date, meet in a busy place, keep your phone on and arrange for someone to call you to give you an opportunity to make your excuses and leave early.

If you become a victim of romance fraud, report it immediately to Action Fraud on or on 0300 123 2040 (or if you’re in Scotland, Police Scotland on 101). Also, report it to the dating site or app where you met the perpetrator. Report any assaults to the police.

For free, easy-to-follow advice on dating online safely, visit, choose ‘Protecting Yourself’ then ‘Safe Online Dating’


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