Are you brave enough to find love on the internet?
That is a crucial question you should ask yourself if you consider that around 60% of people have positive experiences during their online meetup. Out of that percentage, approximately 39% meet up in real life to reveal their love interest’s identity beyond the confines of the internet.
Once you join any online app or site, you will, at some point, feel worried about becoming among the remaining 40% of the equation or the dating hopefuls who have had a negative experience.
To tell you honestly, only you can determine whether you will fall into the happy or disappointed bracket of online meetup hopefuls. Luckily for you, this blog aims to gear you with the knowledge to protect yourself from unwanted heartache and refrain from joining the disappointed romantics around the globe.
Remember: You always have the right to stay guarded against any negative experience during your lovestruck endeavours on the internet. The first step towards getting geared with smarter dating decisions is to explore the answer to how to detect an online dating scammer?
Thus, we now move on to the interesting portion of the article: online safety tips.
Protection is a Must: How to Avoid Being Part of the Remaining 40%?
Dating admittedly equates to risks. Around 55% of users who meet through the internet have either suffered from their personal information being leaked, falling victim to catfishers, or getting rejected by potential mates. You are better off prepared than sorry because any of the aforementioned disasters (or worse) could happen to you.
There are nine ways to strengthen your barrier against scams and reduce failed romances online.
1. Research the Website
When planning on meeting someone who could potentially become your life partner, make sure that the website has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). An SSL ensures the safety of users because it means the link between the server and browser is encrypted. Hackers would not be able to easily gain access to your information and use it for horrible reasons. Also, assess if the website is user-friendly and easy to access. These attributes give you more confidence that your dating experience would be positive.
2. Verify Photos Used
Another method to ensure you are dating safely online is to double-check the user’s profile photo you are meeting. There have been cases wherein people used photos of different people on their profiles and pretended to be them to carry on with their deceptive schemes (also called catfishing). Want to avoid being phished? Search for the person. If their photo connects to an actual account that certifies they are who they say they are, you can choose to continue meeting that individual.
The tricky part here is when nothing connects them to the photo they used. You might want to pull away from the user you are talking to and block them while you’re at it before they do anything more drastic.
3. Do a Social Media Check
The use of social media has been quite effective in determining whether a dating app user presents an authentic identity on the platform or not. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, verifying the person behind the profile photo or “About Me” section of a potential partner reduces the risk of dating someone whose identity is a fabricated one. If you are the type who is quite meticulous and wants 100% certification on the individuals you are engaging with online, then Linkedin is another excellent social media channel. Linkedin profiles are designed for business and career-related searches, so a person is less likely to mess with their professional profile; nor is it easy for a scammer to create fake profiles based solely on someone’s Linkedin account.
You can also use social media as an excuse to ask if you both can talk on a different platform and get to know each other more. It is a harmless suggestion that could result in a deeper connection and less scepticism about who you are talking to.
4. Block Suspicious Users
Please do not ignore your instincts when it comes to online dating. It is your body physically telling you that there is something wrong. Once you start feeling uncomfortable, it is okay to pause or end the conversation. If the person does not take the hint, block them. Better safe than sorry. People can be all kinds of toxic, so make sure to set your boundaries and stick to them firmly. It can be exhausting to talk to several different people as well. Call it a gamble since there is a 50-50 chance that the person across the screen is a creep or a phisher waiting for their next victim.
Make blocking a habit and prioritize your safety at all times. You may feel guilty for the time being, but it is better to protect your inner peace than rebuild it after a bad break-up, a date gone wrong, or after enduring a phisher’s attack.
5. Video Chat as Proof of Life
This would have to be the most important of the nine safety tips on online dating listed in this blog. With video chat, there is no escape. During a video call, you can identify factors including their personality type, the people they live with, their surroundings, their tone of voice, and most importantly, what they look like. All of these are crucial considerations to protect yourself both figuratively and physically.
Figuratively, because some of your standards in a life partner also consist of non-physical traits, such as personality, temperance, and verbal cues. Since you can talk to them while looking them in the eye, it also helps you gauge whether you both share a strong level of chemistry or not. Meanwhile, the physical aspect of what you can confirm through video calls or chats is focused more on guaranteeing that the person you’ve been messaging all this time is the same.
6. No to Users Asking for Money
Money-talk during the initial stages of dating is a major red flag. When your date starts to ask for money from you online, please think twice before sending them that money. Most newbies in the world of dating apps often fall prey to this type of scam. They may look too dreamy or speak ever-so-suavely, but if you barely know the person, then keep your wallets (or pockets) tightly zipped. Make sure that you can fully trust the person before you give any form of money involved. Protect you and your bank account from being used by people who may end up just using you for money.
7. Use Different Personal Photos for Different Profiles
Although social networking sites check a user’s authenticity, that doesn’t mean that a private Facebook profile means a fake persona. If you don’t want to be branded or suspected of being a scammer while keeping your social profiles private, try adorning each of your accounts with various default photos. Unless you are someone living a busy life and is not online 24/7 or simply quite lazy to update your accounts. Some frauds do not take the time and effort to switch their profile photos, even fake Facebook or IG. As such, the more varied your photos are across the apps you use, the harder it is for people to find you or replicate your identity. The precaution helps you stay hidden, especially if you do not want to talk outside the app in fear of getting too personal or if you are not really looking for anything serious yet.
8. Be Meticulous when Sharing Personal Information
It can be tempting to trust everything that people say online, especially when you are romantically involved with them. However, you still have to be picky as to who you share personal information with. You never know if they will keep the details you disclosed in private or if they are waiting for a golden chance to tell the whole world about it. Worse, some would go as far as to use your story as a tool to fool other users. Your security increases when you decide not to tell much about yourself at first and ensure that you can trust the person sending you messages.
9. Use Google Voice Instead of Your Number
Using Google Voice is a worthier option than giving your personal number, especially on a website. Google Voice is free software that allows you to call and text people from a not your personal number. You can call or text someone through the Wi-Fi network instead of using credits from your sim card. Not only that, Google provides you with a number that is solely yours, and it can change from phone to phone. It is safer to use the software, especially on a first meeting, to protect yourself from scammers or spammers. Google Voice also gives you the option to block numbers, ensuring a safer dating experience online.
In this regard, whenever you receive a call or message from your date, you can answer with confidence. Keep your personal number only with those you trust and feel the most comfortable with to protect you. The software can easily be uninstalled with just a tap of a finger.
Keep Calm and Safe
There you have it—nine foolproof ways to keep you fully equipped from experiencing the major heartbreak of getting catfished. Your safety is of the utmost importance above finding love because you are you, and you cannot afford to lose your identity, self-esteem, or even your purpose over a heartless trickster on the internet. Self-preservation will not only maintain your privacy and online security, but it will also help you land a love connection that meets your standards and fulfils what you seek in an intimate partner.
Emulate these safety precautions for online dating and have fun finding your life partner!