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Safe Online Dating

Online dating sites such as Match.com, eHarmony.com and Zoosk.com take the traditional matchmaking process online and allow people to meet one another via the internet. 

Broken hearts and disappointment are obvious risks in online dating. However, you also need to be aware of how to keep yourself - and your bank account and savings - protected while meeting people online. 

The Risks

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  • Never disclose private information on online dating sites.
  • Be very careful about how and when you meet people in person.
  • Take every precaution that profiles you are looking at are genuine.
  • Never be tempted to send or transfer money to people you meet online, however unfortunate their story.
  • Personal safety when meeting someone in person who you met online.
  • Stalking and harassment.
  • Fraud, when people appeal appeal to your better nature to help them out of an 'unfortunate situation' by sending money.
  • People masquerading as somebody who they are not.
  • Spam, selling or fraud, especially romance fraud.
  • Webcam blackmail, where fraudsters record things you may do in front of your webcam then use the recording to extort money.
  • Phishing emails claiming to be from an online dating site and encouraging you to divulge personal information.
  • Being defrauded by using websites posing as authentic dating sites.
  • Potential theft of your money if you do not use a secure link when making payments. 
  • Using certain dishonest dating sites that:
    • Set up 'pseudo' or fake profiles where the person you think you have met is actually employed by the site to keep you hanging on ... and paying money
    • Stop sending you contacts and messages as soon as you have paid the fee to receive them

Choose Your Forum Carefully

Choosing a well-run, reputable online dating service will provide some additional safety over those you have not heard of.

  • Choose a site that will protect your anonymity until you choose to reveal personal information. 
  • Choose a site that will enforce its policies against inappropriate use.
  • Run a Google image search on the photos in profiles you receive, to ensure they have not been stolen to create a fake profile

Protect Your Privacy

Make sure that you are always in control of what happens. Do not let anyone pressure you into giving away more information than you feel comfortable with.

  • Do not post personal information, such as phone numbers, on dating sites.
  • Wait until you feel comfortable with an individual before telling them things like your phone number, place of work or address.
  • Be extremely wary about removing clothes or doing other things in front of your webcam, that could be used against you - even if you think you know the other party.
  • Use a dating site that offers the ability to email prospective dates using a service that conceals both parties’ true email addresses.
  • As a second line of defence for your privacy, set up a separate email account that does not use your real name. This is very simple and quick to do using such providers as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or gmail. 
  • Make sure your phone number is ‘blocked’ to people you contact on dating sites.
  • Pick a user name that does not include any personal information. For example, “joe_glasgow” or “jane_liverpool” would be bad choices.

Protect Your Savings

It is very common for fraudsters to start an online 'relationship' with the sole aim of scamming you out of savings. Don't fall for hard luck stories.

Meeting in Person

If someone you meet online is sincerely interested in you, they will want you to feel safe and they will be happy to let you apply a few common sense rules when you meet:

  • Always meet and stay in a populated public place. 
  • Do not accept a lift from your date.
  • Do tell a friend or family member who you are meeting, where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Stay sober.
  • Take your mobile phone and keep it switched on.
  • Your personal belongings can be stolen. Your drink can be drugged. Don’t leave them unattended.

 

More Safety Guidelines

Match.com

Zoosk.com

 

See also...

 

Privacy
Maintain privacy and avoid identity theft or fraud.

Preventing Identity Theft
Your identity is precious. Keep it that way with a few simple precautions.

Viruses & Spyware
A basic understanding of computer viruses and spyware.

Skype and Internet Calls
Use the Internet to make calls safely.

 

Social Networking Sites
A great way to stay in touch. Make sure it's safe and secure.

Chatrooms
Chatting online is fun, but do you know who you're actually talking to?