Falling in love and forming meaningful relationships online is more common now than ever. About 30% of American adults admit to using online dating sites or mobile apps. When broken down by age, 48% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they’ve used online dating sites, while the figure stands at 16% for those 50 and older.
That’s a lot of people looking for love online.
However, this doesn’t mean that all people you meet online are genuine and seeking a wholesome relationship. It’s always wise to exercise some form of caution when you message someone on an online dating platform, regardless of how well you seem to get along.
Here are a few ways to make sure all your online dating experiences stay safe.
Don’t Give Personal Information to a Stranger
Scammers and identity thieves can appear quite charming online. Make sure you really get to know the person you’re messaging before deciding to meet in person. Do most messages consist of the other person asking you for personal details rather than asking about your interests and goals? Then you may have reason to be wary.
Don’t be afraid to report a suspicious person to the dating website or app you’re using. The support team surely wants to make sure the experience is safe and comfortable for everyone.
Always Trust Your Gut (and Your Friends)
If something feels off about the person with whom you’re exchanging messages, this might be a sign that you shouldn’t pursue a relationship. This is especially true if the person persists in asking for personal information that you’re uncomfortable giving out, or asks you for money. It’s never a good sign when a stranger appears more interested in how much money you make than what goals you have in life. So, it’s best to steer clear of these folks.
Still unsure about your new online connection? Ask your friends for their opinions. If they all seem to agree that the person you’re messaging seems off, then it’s probably best to heed their advice and cut things off. Report the profile to the site if the person becomes especially aggressive toward you. And be sure to block him or her quickly.
Always Tell Someone Where You’re Going to Meet an Online Date
If you hit it off with someone and plan to meet in person, it’s always wise to share the details with a friend, a close family member, or even a coworker, just in case something goes wrong. This includes the supposed name of the person you’re meeting, the place or places you’re planning to hang out, and what time you’ll be home. This ensures that, if something bad happens, a trusted confidante is prepared to take action.
You should also drive yourself to your first in-person date rather than be picked up. And be sure to meet your online date in a public space. He or she is less likely to try something weird if you’re surrounded by a lot of people. If your online date keeps suggesting private places or that you go to his or her house when you don’t want to, this should tip you off that something is wrong.
Research the Person You’re Messaging
Even if the person you’re talking to online seems genuine, it doesn’t hurt to be thorough in getting to know him or her first. A public records site like PeopleFinders is a useful tool to try to check and see if a potential date is on the up-and-up. The public records available may tell you how old this person really is, if they have a concerning criminal record you should worry about, and other important info.
For more information on how to avoid online dating scams and fraud, check out the PeopleFinders blog. There, you can find a range of tips for better revealing a potential date’s true identity and past.
Online dating can be a superb way to meet new people, but it can also be risky. Be sure to follow the above tips, so you can use online dating safely and efficiently.
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