Wednesday 15 October 2014

How To Stay Safe In The World Of Online Dating

How To Stay Safe In The World Of Online Dating

Dating in itself is difficult, and when you bring in the digital angle to it, it turns the equation on its head. It can be quite a scary proposition to meet strangers online. This poses tons of challenges like identity theft, money scams and even personal safety issues. Here are some ways to stay safe if you are looking for love online.

Avoid exchanging personal data online at all costs

Before you share your home address, work contact details and telephone number with someone you may have met online, wait until you either meet them personally or speak to them long enough to establish a level of trust with them. Your online presence is yours alone, and it is important that you own it. You should be the only one who controls what you share online. Engaging in many different virtual platforms may leave you vulnerable to a cyber attack or a cyber crime. Make sure your security settings are set up across all your online profiles. Don't share personal data on dating sites or on social media. 

Beware of sob stories 

If you are chatting with someone and they start to tell you about how they need a few lakhs for an emergency surgery or a trip abroad, close that connection then and there. Scammers are everywhere and there is a sucker born every day, especially online.

Be sure that what you see is what you get

Many online profiles created by scammers use photographs stolen from other people's Facebook accounts or the Internet. TinEye is a great site that markets itself as 'a reverse image search engine'. All you have to do is upload the photograph of a particular person on the site and it will throw up results as to where else on the Internet the photo has appeared so you may know if it is authentic or fake.

Keep an eye out for odd language

Most scams may be local, but some may even come from abroad (remember the fake Nigerian prince?) Watch out for messages riddled with bad grammar and for an odd tone. They probably are legitimate. 

Be vigilant and diligent 

Most dating sites take the safety issues of their members very seriously. If you are suspicious about a certain profile, the online dating site you are using will have made it extremely easy for you to report them. There are some dating sites that even offer an option for the member to sign up for a background check. Other ways to be vigilant and diligent are:
· Conduct a Google search on the person you are chatting with
· If you do make a plan to meet, make it a lunch date in a public place and not a late-night date.
· Avoid giving out financial information at all costs.
· Facebook stalk them to see if you have any common friends.
Be web wise

If a conversation with someone suddenly takes an unexpected turn when they ask you for personal information, ask you to act immediately, or sounds too good to be true, you should be wary. There are tons of red flags to keep an eye out for to know that you are dealing with a scammer or someone who isn't who they say they are. Be wary of people who:
· Immediately asks you to chat or talk outside the dating service both of you are currently using.
· Asks you for financial aid
· Mysteriously vanishes from the site, and then reappears under a different username.
· Talks about "fate" or "destiny" constantly.
· Asks for your address under the guise of sending gifts or flowers
· Sends you emails containing strange links to third-party websites

Check their digital presence 

These days, if you know someone's full name, you can easily do a Google search and find their Twitter handle, their LinkedIn profile and their Facebook page. Visit each of these and see if you like what you see.

Before you go out on your date, make sure a friend or family member knows where you are going and who you are meeting. Share the contact details of your date with your friends or family.

At the end of the day, it is all about going with your gut feel. Enjoy yourself but be cautious. The digital arena is slowly emerging as one of the most popular places to meet Mr. or Miss Right. If you go about it the right way, you might find yourself surprised with the results. 

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