More and more people using dating sites and apps are sincere and honest in the information they provide and in their reasons for joining. However, there are exceptions, and you need to be aware of how to keep yourself   protected while meeting people online. 

The Risks

  • Personal safety when meeting someone in person who you met online.
  • Stalking and harassment.
  • People masquerading as somebody who they are not.
  • Webcam blackmail, where fraudsters record things you may do in front of your webcam then use the recording to extort money.
  • Phishing  emails claiming to be from an online dating site and encouraging you to divulge personal information.
  • Being defrauded by using websites posing as authentic dating sites.

Follow this advice to date safely online

You should check if the dating site you are using is a member of the Online Dating Association (ODA). Membership means that the site has to commit to an industry code of practice that includes honest communication with users, protecting their privacy and providing a mechanism for reporting abuse. Inclusion of the ODA's logo on the site indicates membership.

Creating your online dating profile

protect your identity and personal information

Be Anonymous

  1. Choose a username that doesn’t let everyone know who you are. Don't include your surname or any other identifying information such as your place of work either in your profile or when you first make contact.
  2. Remember that overtly sexual, provocative or controversial usernames could attract the wrong kind of attention.
  3. Keep contact details private. Stay in control when it comes to how and when you share information. Don't include your contact information such as your email address, home address, or phone number in your profile or initial communications. Take things slowly and share more information when you feel comfortable doing so. It is impossible to get back information once you have given it away.
  4. Stop communicating with anyone who attempts to pressure you into providing your personal or financial information or who seems to be trying to trick you into providing it. If this happens contact the dating provider immediately to not only protect yourself but other users too.

Password & Security

  1. Be careful when accessing your account from a public or shared computer so that others can't view or record your password or personal information.
  2. Be wary of opening email attachments from someone you have only just met
  3. Ensure that you keep your internet security software up to date.

Connecting With New People Online

Get to know people, take your time and trust your instincts. Act with caution and learn more about someone before contacting him or her outside of the dating site. Dating services run mail and chat so you can get to know people in a safer and [monitored/controlled] way. They do it to protect you, not to make money. Use their platform and the added security it gives. If and when you do decide to share an e-mail address think about creating a separate and anonymous email address.

Take Your Time

Sometimes when you're excited about someone, your instincts can be confused by strong feelings. Take care and take your time when you talk about yourself. You don’t need to give out your life-story the first time you chat – and you shouldn’t. There will be plenty of time to share such details if your relationship develops.

Be Responsible and do your own Research

There is a limit to an online dating provider’s ability to check the backgrounds of users and verify the information they provide. They cannot do a criminal records check on every user. And a person can become a problem without having a record. Therefore, don't get a false sense of security because you're on a dating site; do your own research to learn more about someone and make informed decisions before you decide to meet. Check to see if the person you're interested in is on other social networking sites like Facebook, do a web search to see if there are other records of the person online, and if possible use google image search to check the profile photos.

Money Requests Are Your Red Light

Why would someone need to borrow money off somebody they have never met, or only just met? There is no reason for anyone to ask you for money or your financial information, whatever sad or sob story they give. Always keep your bank and account information private. Stop all contact immediately and report the matter to the dating site.

Report Unacceptable or Suspicious Behaviour

Nobody should have to put up with offensive, insulting and threatening behaviour online any more than they should or would if talking to someone in a bar or café. Trust your instincts and immediately stop communicating with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or apprehensive. Never feel embarrassed to report a problem to the dating service. You are helping them and doing other users a favour.

Research more about online safety

  • Never disclose private information on online dating sites.
  • Be very careful about how and when you meet people in person.
  • Take every precaution that profiles you are looking at are genuine.
  • Never be tempted to send or transfer money to people you meet online, however unfortunate their story.