If you’re a millennial or Gen Z-er, you’ve most likely contemplated finding love in the world of online dating.
With so many different digital platforms and lists of do’s and don’t's, the waters can be treacherous and somewhat nerve-racking if you aren't sure how to navigate the online dating world. Here are some basics to keep in mind to keep you safe so you can find your happily-ever-after!
You’d be surprised to see just how much you can find out about a person through a simple google search. With social media profiles, past and current job information, and online voter registration details (which can include your full name and address), it is all too easy to find a lot of info about a person through google. So, while it may be difficult to wipe your online fingerprint completely, it may be a good idea to run a google search of yourself before giving your full name to a potential date until you get to know him better.
Get a Google Voice Number
Tired of handing out your number only to be texted by unsolicited suitors? Try downloading the free Google Voice app for future dates—this removes the hassle of having to block unwanted numbers or changing phone numbers.
Meet in a Public Place
I think this goes without saying, if you are serious about finding true love, don’t offer to meet at his house or a secluded area. Going to well-lit and more crowded places like a restaurant or coffee shop is always a safe bet. Also, if he offers to pick you up, politely decline and drive yourself to and from the proposed date destination. Your mom would be proud!
Don’t Use a Facebook or Instagram Picture as Your Profile Pic
Some people are less tech-savvy (including myself), and some are masters at finding out anything about someone if given any tidbit of information. It is SO easy to run a google image search on someone’s photo, so no matter how perfect the angle or lighting is, try using a photo not found on the internet for your online dating profile.
Tell a Friend or Family Member about Your Date
They say there are safety numbers, and the same goes for online dating. If you’re planning on meeting up with your new date, let a good friend or family member know about where you plan on meeting up with your date and the time you expect to be home. It may be a good idea to text your friend if time goes over because you’re enjoying the date so much!
Avoid the “Romance Scam”
In 2018, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams. Sounds crazy, right? According to the FTC, this scam brought more loss than any other reported scams out there. These scammers create fake online dating profiles even through popular social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook and try to build trust with the individual. Be aware of the warning signs:
1. Lies the Romance Scammers Sell
Working in the military
Working on an oil rig
A doctor with an international organization
Foreign immigrant needing financial help
2. What They Ask You To Dish Out
Plane ticket or other travel expenses
Customs fees to retrieve something
Visa or other travel documents
Pay off gambling debts
3. How They Ask You To Pay
With reload cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon or iTunes
Bottom line: NEVER send money to someone you haven’t met. If you suspect you’re being scammed, stop talking to them immediately. You can also do an online image search to see if their name pops up as a different name or the details are not matching up.
Safety is always the top priority. With so many devastating stories out there of women (and men) being taken advantage of, it is crucial to be aware of online scams and to ensure safe online and offline dating practices.
When it comes to your heart, you need to have fun, but you also need to know how to protect it. Always listen to your gut intuition, and if you feel unsafe or are questioning your potential dates’ details, give heed to these feelings, and always ask questions. Your safety and well-being are the most important!
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