Online dating sites such as Match.com, RealBritishSex.com and eHarmoney.com take dating online and allow members to find potential partners online with many online encounters leading to dates and relationships.
Most people using dating sites are genuine and honest in the information they give and in their reasons for using a dating site. However, there are exceptions, and you need to be aware of how to keep yourself while meeting people online.
The potential risks
Potential risks you should be aware of when dating online:
- 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.
- Spam, selling or fraud.
- Webcam blackmail, where fraudsters record things you may do in front of your webcam then use the recording to extort money.
- People online asking you to send them money.
Creating your online dating profile: protect your personal details and your identity
– Choose a discreet username that doesn’t other members know who you are. Don’t include your surname or any other identifying information such as your place of work either in your online profile or when you first make contact.
– Keep contact details private. Stay in control when it comes to how and when you share information. Don’t include your contact information such as your email address, home address, or phone number in your profile or in your communications and messages. It is impossible to get back information once you have given it away.
– Stop communicating with anyone who attempts to pressure you into providing your personal or financial information or who seems to be trying to trick you into providing it. If this happens contact the dating provider immediately to not only protect yourself but other users too.
Password & Security
– Be careful when accessing your account from a public or shared computer so that others can’t view or record your password or personal information.
– Be wary of opening email attachments from someone you have only just met
– Ensure that you keep your internet security software up to date.
Connecting With New People Online
Get to know people, take your time and trust your instincts. Act with caution and learn more about someone before contacting him or her outside of the dating site. Dating services run mail and chat so you can get to know people in a safer and [monitored/controlled] way. They do it to protect you, not to make money. Use their platform and the added security it gives. If and when you do decide to share an e-mail address think about creating a separate and anonymous email address.
Take Your Time
– Sometimes when you’re excited about someone, your instincts can be confused by strong feelings. Take care and take your time when you talk about yourself. You don’t need to give out your life-story the first time you chat – and you shouldn’t. There will be plenty of time to share such details if your relationship develops.
Be Responsible and do your own Research
– There is a limit to an online dating provider’s ability to check the backgrounds of users and verify the information they provide. They cannot do a criminal records check on every user. And a person can become a problem without having a record. Therefore, don’t get a false sense of security because you’re on a dating site; do your own research to learn more about someone and make informed decisions before you decide to meet. Check to see if the person you’re interested in is on other social networking sites like Facebook.
Money Requests Are Your Red Light
– Why would someone need to borrow money off somebody they have never met, or only just met? There is no reason for anyone to ask you for money or your financial information, whatever sad or sob story they give. Always keep your bank and account information private. Stop all contact immediately and report the matter to the dating site.
Report Unacceptable or Suspicious Behaviour
– Nobody should have to put up with offensive, insulting and threatening behaviour online any more than they should or would if talking to someone in a bar or café. Trust your instincts and immediately stop communicating with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or apprehensive. Never feel embarrassed to report a problem to the dating service. You are helping them and doing other users a favour.
Play it safe when you meet face-to-face
Be smart and stay safe. Going on a date with someone new is an exciting step in a relationship, but continue being careful. Even if you feel you have become closer to someone via email and phone, you should still remember that this person is largely a stranger to you. Therefore it is important that when meeting someone in person, whether it is your first or fifth date, you take precautions and consider these dos and don’ts.
1. Plan it. Say it. Do it.
It’s your date. Agree on what you both want from it before you meet up. Don’t feel pressured to meet before you’re ready or for any longer than you’re comfortable with – a short first date is fine.
2. Meet in public. Stay in public.
The safest plan is to meet somewhere public and stay somewhere public. . Make your own way there and back and don’t feel pressured to go home with your date. If you feel ready to move to a private environment, make sure your expectations match your date’s.
3. Get to know the person before meeting.
The way people interact online isn’t always the same face-to-face. Don’t be offended if your date is more guarded when meeting in person. or if things don’t progress as fast face-to-face.
4. Not going well? Make your excuses and leave.
Don’t feel bad about cutting a date short if you’re not keen. You don’t owe the other person anything, no matter how long you’ve been chatting or what’s been suggested.
5. If you’re raped or sexually assaulted on your date, help is available.
Sadly, people aren’t always what they seem. Dating sites, social networks and other internet services are targeted by scammers. Scammers want one thing and one thing only – money. Here are a few examples of common scammer behaviours to watch out for and report:
1. Declarations of love – If someone you are in contact with starts declaring their love for you within a matter of weeks (or even days or hours), be cautious. You need to know someone to come to love them. Instant messages of love could be someone trying to get right into your life, possibly for all the wrong reasons. Use common sense and don’t be afraid to speak to a friend to get a second opinion.
2. Requests for money – This really should send alarm bells ringing whatever the form the request comes in. Scammers will look to gain your sympathy with the stories they tell.
3. Someone offering you money – Who gives money away to strangers through a dating site? These are always scams. The same goes for anyone with a sure-fire get rich quick schemes. The only one trying to get rich quick is the scammer as he or she fishes for your bank details or other financial information.
4. Threats and blackmail – These are ugly words. But some scammers have tried to threaten money out of people for not showing pictures, webcam footage or messages that they have managed to get out of users online.
Advice for avoiding scammers
– Never ever respond to a request for money.
– Never give out bank account or other details.
– Beware of the sob story – someone telling you how much they want to visit you but need a loan to pay for the ticket/visas. Or stories about a desperately ill family member who needs help with medical expenses.
– The same goes for fantastic too good to be true business deal they are in on – if only they had some extra up-front money…..
– Watch out for those profiles that immediately tug on heart strings – supposed ex-serviceman or woman, or those who claim to be recently widowed to gain your trust and sympathy.
– Our same warning goes for pleas of urgency – about money needed at short notice. Someone asking you to use a wire service to get money to them is up to no good.
– Do not share pictures or information about yourself or others that gives someone any sort of hold over you. Your private life should stay private until you know someone really well and can start over time to trust them with things.
– If you do find someone trying to menace money out of you – don’t. They’d just be back for more. Report them; however bad that might feel at the time.