How To Make Sure You Stay Safe While Using Online Dating Sites

*This is collaborative post, however all words and opinions are my own.

Since the country has moved into our third lockdown as a result of COVID 19, there’s been a noticeable rise in the use of online dating apps. Online dating is a practical, fun and easy way to get yourself back out there, no matter what your circumstances or age. The benefits of being able to check an app whenever it suits you, quickly and efficiently swipe through to profiles that catch your eye, and chat in one convenient platform, all make online dating a great way to date.

However, it goes without saying that keeping safe should be your top priority. You may feel unsure how to proceed with online dating and stay safe at the same time, or you may have concerns about a loved one who’s thinking about venturing into the world of online dating. If that sounds like you, or you’re just looking for some additional sources of information that’ll help keep you safe, keep reading!

Use a different profile picture for your online dating website or app.

With so many social media platforms and apps that allow you to pick and choose your profile pictures, it can really pay to think carefully about what photo you choose to upload when online dating. Uploading a profile picture that’s different from the ones you have chosen to use on your other social media platforms (like Facebook and Instagram) will help keep people from being able to find your platforms as easily. It’s simple to do a reverse image search online and if you have the same images on all your accounts, you’ll be easy to find. Additionally, you can, nowadays, also utilise tech to prevent this. For example, by using AI to create an ai profile picture, the photographs you upload to a dating site will remain authentic but will be unable to be traced back to your other profiles, provided you do not post them elsewhere.

Are you talking to a catfish?

A catfish is the term used to describe someone who sets up a fake profile on websites using false information and a false profile picture. Often these people will use photos they find online and, in real life, the person will look completely different. These accounts can be extremely dangerous. If you know someone’s full name, try seeing if you can track them down on social media – look through their photos and information and this will help you determine whether they’re a fake profile or not.

When dating online, keep personal information to a minimum.

This one is common sense really, but you’d be surprised how easily things can slip out in conversation, especially if you feel like you’re really clicking with the person you’re chatting to. Be mindful of the information you’re giving out, and obviously avoid giving anyone your home or work address, as well as any other personal information that could easily lead to them being able to track you down in person.

Avoid suspicious profiles when scrolling through dating websites and apps.

If someone contacts you and begins asking you suspicious questions, it’s likely they’re a fake profile and should be reported. These profiles are often set up by scammers who are looking for a way to gain extra insight into your life so that they can later manipulate you. Dating websites, such as Staffordshire Dating, take these complaints extremely seriously, so you can rest assured that no one will judge you for reporting a user. 

Here are some warning signs that the person you’re chatting to is suspicious, and should likely be reported:

  • They’re claiming to be an employee of the app or website that you’re using and asking for personal information such as your address or log in details. 
  • They ask you for financial help, often due to some sort of emergency crisis.
  • They put pressure on you to provide a phone number or talk outside of the dating app or site.
  • They are overly romantic and complimentary towards you far too soon. 
  • They give you vague answers, even when you ask them very specific questions.

Meeting face to face.

Before agreeing to meet face to face, there are a few things that you can do to ensure you stay as safe as possible. Firstly, make sure you’ve had a video chat with your date before you agree to meet up with them. Ensure the video quality is good and you can clearly see their face – compare this to their profile pictures to make sure they’re who they say they are. Secondly, always tell a friend where you’re going, who you’re going with and how long you’re likely to be. Tell your date that you’ve arranged to send a message or have a phone call with your friend at a specific time just to check in and let them know you’re safe. Do not rely on your date for transportation; this allows you to leave whenever you want to if you start to feel uncomfortable. 

Trust your instincts.

I’m a firm believer in trusting your instincts. If your gut tells you something is wrong, avoid it. If you get the feeling that the person you’re talking to isn’t genuine, delete/remove/block them without a second though. Your safety is the most important thing, so don’t worry about being rude! If you made it to the face to face meeting part and you start to feel uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with leaving. Your date will understand your discomfort.

Online dating can be such a rewarding experience and I personally know quite a few couples who have found lasting love this way. If online dating is something you’re interested in, I would encourage you to give it a go – you never know what it might lead to! Keep the above tips in mind, but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the experience.

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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