Tens of millions use online dating apps or services in the US. Safety precautions are worth keeping in mind, as is the case when meeting someone new, regardless of whether you meet them online or in real life.
Here are the steps to take to stay safe when interacting with other people through online platforms. While there’s no 100% guarantee, they will help you feel safer and objectively more secure.
Don’t use the same picture everywhere
Don’t use the same photo on dating sites as you do on social media. Someone might do a reverse image search with Google and find your social network accounts.
Watch for suspicious profiles
If your match on a dating site has just one picture, no bio, and no connected social media, the account might be fake. Be cautious if you decide to connect with someone who gives you very few details to go on. It’s likely that the dating app you’re using didn’t conduct a background check on all of its members, so it’s up to you to vet anyone you meet on there. Ultimately, the decision to meet someone in real life is yours.
Don’t be afraid to block and report
If someone is behaving inappropriately or acting suspiciously, don’t hesitate to block and report them to the platform. You can do this anonymously before or after you’ve matched.
Scope out your date
Check social networks for any details about a potential date. If you have mutual friends online or know their handles or name on social media, look them up to make sure their profiles are legitimate.
Common forms of suspicious behavior
· Asking for financial assistance in any way
· Claims to be recently widowed with children
· Claims to be from the US but is currently working, living, or traveling abroad
· Disappears from the app, then resurfaces under a different name
· Overly romantic very early on
· Makes too many compliments
· Vague answers to specific questions
· Pressures you to talk outside the app or give your phone number
· Tells unbelievable or inconsistent stories
· Requests your home or work address
· Claims to be educated but uses poor grammar or makes a lot of spelling mistakes
Types of user behavior you could report:
· Requests photographs
· Requests financial assistance
· Is a minor
· Attempts to intimidate or threaten you
· Tries to sell you something
· Sends offensive or harassing messages
· Their profile seems fake
Don’t send them money
Never comply with a request to send money, no matter how believable and compelling their reason may seem, especially via wire transfer or abroad. Report any such request to the platform or app immediately.
If you haven’t met them in person, don’t give them your social security number, bank details, or home or work address. Dating apps don’t ask for your username and password, so delete such requests at once and consider reporting them.
If you choose to meet in real life
Have a video call before you meet in real life. This way, you can be sure they are who they say. When you meet, it should be in public. The first date shouldn’t be in your office or home or theirs. A bar, restaurant, or coffee shop is ideal, especially if there are lots of people around. Avoid meeting in isolated locations or public parks.
At least one person should know where you’re going on a date and with who. If you move somewhere else during the date, text a friend about your new location. It’s also a good idea to call or text a friend at some point during the date or when you get home.
Arrange your own transport
Arrange transport so you can leave if the date goes sour. Don’t get into a date’s vehicle, even if they seem completely legitimate and friendly. Download several ride-sharing apps on your phone, so you have a backup if one is not working when needed. Your phone should be fully charged with mobile data activated. Consider bringing a portable battery or your charger.
There’s no harm in drinking a bit on a date, but don’t go beyond your limits. If your date is drinking a lot, don’t feel pressured to keep up. Alcohol clouds people’s judgment.
Tags: background check, dating app