Hot off the press from our in-house blogger, Lauren (Photo credit: Saskia Nelson)
Most of us will never encounter anyone really dodgy when online dating. And by ‘really dodgy’ we mean more than just having terrible dating photos or a bad taste in jumpers. But recent press reports about about money scams, sexual assault and identity theft can make online dating seem like a bit of a minefield. However, there’s no need to let safety fears stop you having fun with online dating if you follow Hey Saturday’s simple steps to protect yourself.
Recognise warning signs
There are usually some tell tale signs if someone you’re chatting to online isn’t who they say they are. Typical signs of a scam include dating profiles which have few details about the person and only one photograph, declarations of love before you’ve met, requests for money, or excuses not to meet in person. Delete this person and move on.
Look them up
Once you’re chatting to someone and they’ve given you their name, it’s easy to look them up on other social media sites. We’re not suggesting you follow their every move – you’re just trying to establish whether they’re a real person. Beware of Facebook profiles with low numbers of friends, only one photograph, or several profiles using the same photograph.
Protect your personal information
This one might seem obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away when chatting to someone you like. Be selective when choosing a username and don’t include your surname on your dating profile. This makes it easier to cut ties if you start to feel uncomfortable and prevents the other person from following you elsewhere online. Don’t give your address or other personal details until you’ve met in person.
Be careful how you meet
When meeting someone for the first time, always make sure you meet in a public place such as a cafe, and arrive there yourself – don’t get picked up from your house. Tell a friend who you’re meeting and where and don’t feel awkward about nipping to the loo to send a quick text updating them of your whereabouts.
Trust your instincts
This is probably the most important one of all – go with your gut instinct. If something seems not quite right, trust your judgement. Don’t ignore these feelings or push them aside because you’re having fun. As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And if you’re ever uncomfortable on a date for any reason, just walk out.