While online dating / networking can be a very rewarding and positive experience, it is vital that you take a cautious approach and protect your safety not only online, but offline. The following safety recommendations are intended as a guide only.
The Number One Rule:
Trust your instincts! Your gut feeling is usually right. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or you feel like they have ill intentions, end the conversation. Exercise your right to block and report any users who you feel are misusing the app.
Don’t Give Away Too Much Information:
When first engaging with someone stay away from providing personal information, stick to a first name basis, do not give out your address or phone number. Do not give out social media accounts such as Facebook or Instagram. It’s also a good idea to create an alternative email address to use specifically for online dating accounts. Online dating can lead you to amazing connections with genuine people, but you need to protect yourself from things like money scams and identity theft.
We suggest taking new and separate photos for your online dating accounts. While your profile will never appear in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, nor will it be accessible by the public, if you are using pictures from your social media accounts, a user may be able to search your image online. This could result in the user gaining more access to your personal life than you might like. Do not put revealing subject matter in your photos, such as your home or office buildings in the background. We also strongly urge you to not include children or anyone underage in your photos, as it goes against our code of conduct. Remember you are interacting with strangers, until you know their intentions, protect yourself and those you care for.
Look For the Signals:
Like anything internet based, there will always be a chance to run into scammers. We have dedicated teams working around the clock to stop these accounts, however with things like fake IP addresses, they can be hard to detect. The following are the most commonly used scamming signals we run into.
Pay attention to your matches location. Try to stay local, unless otherwise needed. The farther away someone is from you, the easier it is for them not to get caught in a scam.
Too Good To be True:
There is a difference between someone having attractive pictures, and pictures that are posed and seem too good to be true. If you have doubts about someone being who they say they are in their pictures, try using services like Googles ‘reverse image search’. Many scammers use the same picture on multiple sites. In the contrary, if someone has no photo posted and tells you they can’t post photos on the site, but can send them via email or text, do not offer to text them. Users can upload photos and keep them private until they wish to share them with someone, there is no reason to take the conversation elsewhere for this reason.
A lot of potential scammers will send you long messages containing an email address, username, or a phone number, asking you to contact them outside of the app. Often once you have made contact they will ask you for money, or more commonly iTunes gift cards. Some scammers will agree to meet with you and then come up with a reason why they can’t make it due to a money issue, like babysitting money or transportation. Never in any circumstance give out your financial information. Financially providing for someone is not part of getting to know someone and not your responsibility.
Look for inconsistency within your conversation; the most common being odd language, misspelling, or consistent typos. Location is another big thing to look for. Someone who’s profile is set to your area, but when it comes down to meeting claims to be on “vacation” or staying elsewhere. Other inconsistencies may include interests, employment and marital status, or overall indirect answers to questions.
Taking The Next Step:
Phone calling/Text messaging:
You can learn a lot about someone through messaging or texting, but we suggest engaging in real phone conversations before you meet with someone. Hearing a person’s voice for the first time will help you figure out your initial gut feelings. Enjoy some back and forth banter to really find out what you have in common. Get to know the person, including their full name and what they do for a living, are there any red flags? Are they making inappropriate comments? Never agree to meet up with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
Use The Internet To Your Advantage:
Once you find out a bit of information about your match, feel free to google them. Check for social media accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Find out if you have any mutual friends that can reveal more about their character. Double check any information they told you that didn’t seem to add up.
Plan a date:
You have decided to meet up with your potential match, let’s plan the date. Make sure that whatever your mutual intentions are, that at least your first meet up is in public, familiar place. Also stick to one place, this keeps you safe and leaves the adventure to continue to the second date. Know your drink maximum and stick with it, don’t leave room for your decision making to be compromised. Do not leave your food or drinks unattended. Make sure your intentions and boundaries for the date are made clear. Always drive yourself, or find your own way to and from your first date. Once you have your date all planned out, tell a friend. Make sure you send a reliable friend the details of where you will be going, the date and time, and your dates name and contact details. It’s always a great idea to have someone to check in with after the date.
Trust Your Instincts:
Always listen to your intuition, it’s usually right! If you feel like your date is making your feel uncomfortable at any stage in the date, do not be afraid to remove yourself from the situation. This is another reason to keep a friend on hand, if you feel like things are going south, text a friend to come and meet you. Using good judgement and being cautious will often lead you to the best connections!
Letting your guard down is usually the biggest risk with dating. In one way or another you have to take risks when it comes to finding love, or even new friends, just make sure that you never put yourself in physical danger. Once you have followed all the offline safety steps and you are comfortable with your date, there’s only one thing left to do; have fun and enjoy the process of getting to know someone new!