Relationships: Staying Safe While Dating Online
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Boom, you’ve matched! So now what?
Online dating has never been more popular than it is now due to the fact that lockdown restrictions mean we can’t go out and meet new people. This means more and more of us are signing up online to find love than ever before.
That doesn't mean that online dating comes without any of the usual concerns that come with meeting a potential partner, in fact there can be a lot to think about. You shouldn't however be put off trying to meet that someone special.
So, what should we be on the lookout for? Take a read to find out how to stay safe while dating online.
One of the first things people fear about online dating is ‘Are they who they say they are?’ You’ve most likely heard the term ‘Catfishing’ by now. Someone looks great in their profile photo, but absolutely nothing like it in real life. That can be an issue in itself, however, it can go way beyond that with some people using a completely different photo of someone else. Have a good look at their photo. Does it look professional? With better cameras and filters these days it can sometimes be hard to tell if someone is using a fake photo profile, so a profile with several photos may be more trustworthy.
It might sound obvious, but check that their description matches their photo, and if they claim to have been to University for example but their spelling and grammar is very poor, then that should also ring alarm bells.
Why might they use a Fake Profile?
There can be a couple of reasons. Neither of which are fair on you. The first one is that they just aren’t confident in the way they look, and perhaps you wouldn’t normally have swiped for them. They then get to know you, creating an online romance. You might even fall in love with this fake image. Technically it’s a form of fraud. There are websites such as https://tineye.com which allow you to upload photographs and use recognition technology to see if there are matches to the photo anywhere else on the internet.
What’s worse is when they use you with the intention of real fraud. They gain your trust and then might begin to ask you for money, gifts, or your banking or credit card details for some kind of emergency. You should never give money to someone online you have never met. Scammers will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, including showering you compliments, sharing what appears to be very personal information, or they might ask you lots of questions but giveaway very little about themselves.
Dating sites, Northamptonshire Dating for example, do follow checks when you sign up, however you could also turn to good old Google. Do a search on their name, find photos. You can also look at Facebook or Instagram but be wary in case they’ve set up a fake profile.
Do not give them your telephone number. It might well be tempting to think of this person messaging you, but if things go wrong you might not be feeling the same way. The same goes for your email, if possible set up a separate email account and use a unique email address different from your personal or professional addresses when setting up a dating website profile.
Another way to find out if they are who they say they are is to video chat. Many of us will be used to Zoom calls now thanks to lockdown. So jump on Facetime or Skype. There's no way of hiding who they really are then.
When you do start chatting, don’t give out too much personal detail up front. With just a little information it’s easier than you might think for fraudsters to steal your identity.
I don’t mean to sound like a party pooper, but - Stay Sober! Loosening up a bit before you message them or video chat might seem tempting, but you could end up losing your inhibitions a bit too much. Things can quickly go viral nowadays.
Use Your Gut
If something feels too good to be true, chances are it is. It’s easy to create a dream lifestyle to woo someone but it may be far from the truth. Talk it over with a friend. As I said at the start of the post, more people than ever are using online dating, so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Another person's perspective might back up your concerns.
At the end of the day, online dating can be a safe, fun and easy way to meet, not only that, many people do meet their soulmate online nowadays.
Just follow my tips to ensure safety and could end up changing your life for the better, and cutting out the risk of some of those dates from the past you’d rather forget.