Online dating is standard practice for most singles these days. But finding love online can be dangerous to your identity – with cyber thieves and other threats. Here are 10 safety tips from myID.com for online dating.
1. Make sure the site is legitimate. Look for seals we trust on the website such as TRUSTe, BBB, and VeriSign. When entering your credit card information, ensure that the website protects your personal data with a secure url address (https instead of http).
2. Check the site’s privacy settings. Before registering, make sure your privacy will be well protected. Does the company share your information with third parties? Can you opt-out of solicitation emails and advertisements that might track your personal data?
3. Protect your identity. Choose a non-identifiable screen name. Avoid sharing your real full name, address, social security number, employer, workplace address, birth date, etc. Resist giving out your telephone number until you feel completely comfortable, and when you’re ready, only divulge your cell phone number so that your address cannot be traced with an easy Internet search. Set up a separate email address for online dating correspondence and make sure it has no identifiable information within the address. Keep other personally identifying information off-limits during all communications.
4. Stay anonymous until you feel safe. Take advantage of cyber dating’s anonymity factor. Some sites offer anonymous communication technology that protects your identity (including your name and email) until you feel comfortable.
5. Trust your gut. If the person you are communicating with says something inappropriate, odd, or simply sets off your internal alarm system, pay attention and respond accordingly. Report suspicious members to the site’s administrator and block any unwanted communication.
6. Never send money. Be wary of anybody who requests money from you. No matter how believable their sob story may be, these people are always scammers. They may ask you to send money via PayPal, Western Union, or a bank account. Stay alert and steer clear.
7. Avoid getting too personal too early. When you engage in cyber flirting, things can escalate quickly. Try to take things slow for as long as possible. Consider speaking over the telephone before agreeing to meet in person.
8. Do your research. Google your potential date prior to meeting them face to face. Similarly, Google yourself to see what information your date may find about you. Take the proper steps to take any unwanted information offline.
9. Report threats to law enforcement. If you receive emails that are harassing or threatening in nature, stop all contact with the individual, print out or save digital copies of the communication, and contact your local authorities. Remember, cyberstalking is a crime in many states and you should never feel embarrassed to ask for help.
10. Consider using only the safest online dating sites that have strong reputations and good user privacy and safety features. Some online dating services like True.com and True North Matchmaking Services require members submit to criminal background checks.
myID.com is an identity management tool designed to help you effectively protect your privacy, finances, reputation and safety online.