We love the whole concept of online dating – and in particular we like how it means that we don't have to spend quite so much time hopping from bar to bar in the search for that special someone. Nothing is ever entirely safe though, even a life lived online. Don't get us wrong, a little spice from the odd hiccup in life goes a long way, but it's vital that you keep a level head so things don't get out of hand. If your only previous contact with someone you agree to meet has been on the other side of a screen, then it's only common sense that you need to take some precautions.
Why Take Care Online?
If you ask most people what the risks of online dating are, they will usually bring up the possibility that you'll turn up on a date and find you're in the clutches of a serial killer. While we suppose this is possible, it's no more or less likely than going to a bar and dating in more traditional ways. More likely is the risk that whoever you meet is just going to mess you around and break your heart – but this, too, is always going to be a part of dating and the risk/reward calculations you have to do.
A much more serious threat when you decide to go into online dating is the one posed by criminals who are looking to target daters for their personal information. When you are putting your information online in a semi-public forum, you should be aware at least of the possibility that someone is looking to target you for fraudulent reasons such as identity theft.
What can you do?
You can make it far more difficult for potential troublemakers and criminals by taking a few precautions when you set up your profile and start talking with people:
- When you register, pick a name that does not give away any personal information about you
- Set up and use an email that is entirely separate from any that you use in other areas of your life. For preference do not even use your real name. Free web-based email services such as Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo! provide reliable and effective services that can be accessed anywhere when you have an online connection.
- Don't post any personal information in your profile, or in a chat, such as your phone number.
- Don't bow to pressure from other people to disclose more about yourself than you feel comfortable providing. Assume that anything you say about yourself may appear on the front page of a tabloid and guard your privacy accordingly.
- Resist the urge to perform a striptease in front of a webcam – it is not unknown for people to attempt to blackmail people when they have made themselves vulnerable.
Anyone you meet online who is as sincere as you will have no objection to these precautions because they will be as invested in your safety and comfort as you are.