10 tips for Internet & online dating safety
Internet matchmaking sites and services offer a fun and secure environment to meet other
quality singles. Itís also a great place to build loving and trusting friendships that can
lead to lasting, offline relationships. Whether you decide to correspond online or meet
members offline, please use sound judgment and be responsible for your conduct. In both
the virtual and real worlds, common sense is your best safety tool.
Watch out for someone who seems too good to be true. Begin by communicating solely via an
Instant Messenger program or email, then look for odd behavior or inconsistencies. The
person at the other end may not be who or what he or she says. Trust your instincts. If
anything makes you uncomfortable, walk away for your own safety and protection.
Guard your anonymity
All correspondence between online members often takes place through a double-blind system,
ensuring your true identity is protected until you decide to reveal it. Never include your
last name, email address, home address, phone number, place of work or any other
identifying information in your member profile or initial messages. When corresponding
with another online member, turn off your email signature file. Stop communicating with
anyone who pressures you for personal information or attempts in any way to trick you into
Exercise caution and common sense
Careful, thoughtful decisions generally yield better dating results. Guard against
trusting the untrustworthy; suitors must earn your trust gradually, through consistently
honorable, forthright behavior. Take all the time you need to test for a trustworthy
person and pay careful attention along the way. If you suspect someone is lying, he or she
probably is, so act accordingly. Be responsible about romance, and donít fall in love at
the click of a mouse. Donít become prematurely intimate with someone, even if that
intimacy only occurs online. If you mutually decide to cross the point of no return, be
smart and protect yourself. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide
some of the most current information available about sexually transmitted diseases and
preserving your health.
Request a photo
A photo will give you a good idea of the person's appearance, which may prove helpful in
achieving a gut feeling. In fact, itís best to view several images of someone in various
settings: casual, formal, indoor and outdoors. If all you hear are excuses about why you
can't see a photo, consider that he or she has something to hide. Since many online
Internet matching services offer free scanning services to its members, thereís no reason
someone shouldnít be able to provide you a photo. Many camera stores
also will scan a picture.
Chat on the phone
A phone call can reveal much about a personís communication and social skills. Consider
your security and do not reveal your personal phone number to a stranger. Try a cell phone
number instead or use local telephone blocking techniques to prevent your phone number
from appearing in Caller ID. Only furnish your phone number when you feel completely
Meet when YOU are ready
The beauty of meeting and relating online is that you can collect information gradually,
later choosing whether to pursue the relationship in the offline world. You never are
obligated to meet anyone, regardless of your level of online intimacy. And even if you
decide to arrange a meeting, you always have the right to change your mind. Itís possible
that your decision to keep the relationship at the anonymous level is based on a hunch
that you canít logically explain. Trust yourself. Go with your instincts.
Watch for red flags
Pay attention to displays of anger, intense frustration or attempts to pressure or control
you. Acting in a passive-aggressive manner, making demeaning or disrespectful comments or
any physically inappropriate behavior are all red flags. You should be concerned if your
date exhibits any of the following behavior without providing an acceptable explanation:
Provides inconsistent information about age, interests, appearance, marital status,
profession, employment, etc.
Refuses to speak to you on the phone after establishing ongoing, online intimacy.
Fails to provide direct answers to direct questions.
Appears significantly different in person from his or her online persona.
Never introduces you to friends, professional associates or family members.
Meet in a safe place
When you choose to meet offline, always tell a friend where you are going and when you
will return. Leave your dateís name and telephone number with your friend. Never arrange
for your date to pick you up at home. Provide your own transportation, meet in a public
place at a time with many people around, and when the date is over, leave on your own as
well. A familiar restaurant or coffee shop, at a time when a lot of other people will be
present, is often a fine choice. If you decide to move to another location, take your own
car. When the timing is appropriate, thank your date for getting together and say goodbye.
Take extra caution outside your area
If you are flying in from another city, arrange for your own car and hotel room. Do not
disclose the name of your hotel and never allow your date to make the arrangements for
you. Rent a car at the airport and drive directly to your hotel. Call your date from the
hotel or meet at the location you have already agreed to. If the location seems
inappropriate or unsafe, go back to your hotel. Try to contact your date at that location
or leave a message on a home machine. Always make sure a friend or family member knows
your plans and has your contact information. And if possible, carry a cell phone at all
Get yourself out of a jam
Never do anything you feel unsure about. If you are in any way afraid of your date, use
your best judgment to diffuse the situation and get out of there. Excuse yourself long
enough to call a friend for advice, ask someone else on the scene for help or slip out the
back door and drive away. If you feel you are in danger, call the police; itís always
better to be safe than sorry. Never worry or feel embarrassed about your behavior; your
safety is much more important than one personís opinion of you.
While liars, cheaters and imposters certainly ply their craft on the Web, youíll also find
them in nightclubs and offline dating services, cocktail parties or even sitting across
from you at your local cafe. Regardless of where you meet someone, dating is never a
risk-free activity, but a little caution will reduce your risk in matters of the heart.