The internet is one of the most dangerous places to meet people because of the ability to hide behind false online profiles. People can say whatever they want so it is up to you to take the time to do your research and investigate a potential partner in order to protect yourself. According to a poll of 2,493 women conducted by WomanSavers.com, 68 percent said they google a person’s name before dating, versus only 31 percent said they did not.
The below ten tips will show you some ways to reduce the risk of online dating.
1. Choose a reputable dating service. Don’t go to a “singles” chatroom where there is no screening whatsoever. Choose a dating site with a long-term reputation like match or e-harmony. Some of these websites allow a completely anonymous technology that helps keep you safer. Some dating sites even have phone services, which allow users to talk to each other without giving out their telephone numbers.
2. Take your time. Ask a lot of questions, notice the way the person writes and pay attention. If a person is too pushy or seems to be to eager to meet you quickly, this could be cause for concern. Notice signs of irritability, anger, or even people who brag about themselves too much. Ask them out their past relationships. There are two sides to every story so listen carefully when the person answers as to why their last relationship didn’t last.
3. Ask for more than one photo. Some people may be using others photos or very outdated photos. If you are concerned the person in the photo is not who they say they are, ask them to take a quick digital shot holding that day’s newspaper.
4. Keep copies of your correspondence. I can’t stress this enough. If you become a victim of cyber-stalking or have any future problems online, the only way to solve the problems is by having proof. This includes instant messaging.
5. Google their user profile name. Many times people are on multiple dating sites and use the same profile name. If you find this is the case, ask the person if they are only on one dating site and see what they say.
6. Get a phone number. Try to get the other person’s phone number before you give out your own. When you phone, be sure you block your caller ID. Phone directory assistance to make sure the phone number is legitimate. Follow up by phoning between the hours of 8p-11p. If they always have their phone turned off or an excuse for not answering during these times, you may be dealing with a married or committed person.
7. Block any person who you are unsure of. If you begin to feel uncomfortable or someone is harassing you, don’t hesitate to block and report him or her.
8. Guard Your Identity. Don’t use your real name on dating profiles, in chat rooms or while instant messaging. Do not post your phone number, address or anything else that may identify you. If you must give out an address, consider getting a P.O. Box.
9. Get an anonymous email account. Some good options for free anonymous email services are gmail, yahoo, hotmail, or hushmail. Some dating websites offer free in-house email accounts so you don’t even need to give out your own email address to correspond.
10. Follow your gut instinct. If something doesn’t seem right, it usually isn’t. If the person claims to be a doctor, ask them some medical questions. If they come on too quickly sexually, they are most likely doing that to others, as well as you, at the same time.
The internet can increase your chances of meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right but it can also expose you to many dangerous people. However, if you research before you date, you can increase your chances of meeting a safe, trustworthy person and save yourself from getting involved with a potentially dangerous situation.
By Online Dating Expert Stephany Alexander
Updated January 12, 2009