Staying Safe While Finding Love Online by Alina Lopez
Oh love…For the most part, everyone is looking for that forever partner to share their life with. It is a wonderful feeling to love and be loved. In today’s day and age, online dating has become a popular method to meet “the one”. Of course, traditional modes to meet someone still stand, but more and more, online dating has become the way to match up. There are numerous online dating sites to include specific target groups; so the options are vast for you to go fishing in the dating pool. Online dating can be a fun and great way to put yourself out there, meet new people, and find a potential mate.
However, there’s always some risk involved and you should always adhere to proper online safety rules. We’ve all heard horror dating stories and there’s even a documentary on Netflix called, The Tinder Swindler, that depicts the case of a fraudster who swindled thousands of dollars from his victims. Yet, there have been numerous success stories of couples who have met through dating sites. Remember your safety is the number one thing to keep in mind at all times!
When sitting behind a computer screen or phone screen, it’s easy to feel a false sense of security when speaking to people online. We may even say things that we wouldn’t normally face to face. After all, you don’t really know that stranger on the other side. The following is a guide to your online dating safety and security.
- Wait until you feel comfortable to agree to meet someone in person. Talk on the phone several times before the date. Don’t just jump up at the first opportunity. It’s a whole different feeling talking to a person than simply just texting, emailing, or IM’ing. You don’t have to delay the encounter for months on end, but also be weary if someone wants to meet right away.
- Do a little digging into the person. While in another context online searching or “stalking” is not something advisable, when it comes to meeting someone offline, you may want to do a little research on the individual. It’s kind of a way to make sure no red flags pop up and also ensure you’re not dealing with a catfish.
- Don’t give money to strangers online and don’t give out your personal information (full name, address, social security, credit card or bank info, etc). A catfish will usually ask for money after a few conversations and this is their end goal.
- When you decide to finally get together with a potential partner, tell someone where you’re going. Meet in a public place and keep it casual. Coffee spots or public parks are a safe location, preferably during the day time. Keeping it brief and casual also gives the opportunity to see each other and if the sparks don’t fly, you don’t have to drag the date on.
- Provide your own transportation. You’ll be better off if you can leave on your own terms if things go south.
- Stay sober! You need to be able to get home safely and also be in control and aware of your surroundings at all times. Again, you don’t really know this person and what intentions they have.
- Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t seem right before or during the date, don’t do it.
Despite the risks associated with online dating, we mustn’t forget the excitement that accompanies romance. If you follow these guidelines, you can massively reduce your risk of falling victim to fraudsters or dangerous situations. Stay vigilant but have fun on your quest to find love on the net!
To contact our office, call 305-470-1670 or visit www.citizenscrimewatch.org.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and be safe!
Written by: Alina Lopez