Online safety

YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO CAUTIOUS

Online dating promises fabulous experiences; nevertheless, you need to know the safety precautions to avoid mishaps. Like with any undertaking, you have to be clever and aware. With more than a thousand and five hundred online dating websites, the net is a well of romance and exploitation. How do you prevent opening your wallet and your heart to a fraud?

Below are some of the common scams to watch out for. Once you have gotten past the trickery, you can forget about it and be ready for a smooth sail. Look at the positive side of things to attract more positivity.

Scams prevalent on the net can be categorized into 4 broad groups:

  • Identity Scams
  • To think that everyone on an online dating website reveals their true identity is risky thinking. Naive people have been lured in; don't add to the number. Vice versa, don't reveal your personal information to strangers. Beware of those who claim to be military. Because of the level of patriotism associated with soldiers, these fraudsters use their identities to con unknown victims. Anyone can steal photos from social networking websites, "Photoshop" it and pretend to be someone else. Some even post photos with adorable children or pets or luxurious cars and houses to draw attention. Opening a photo in an attachment sent to you on your computer can be used to infect your computer and steal your information. Just use the dating site's inbox or video chat feature (particularly if they are overseas) to communicate and refrain from providing your email address or messenger.

  • Money Scams
  • Sign up only with a reputable, trusted, well-reviewed, and security conscious site. Paid online websites are better. The fact that someone paid with a credit means their details are with the site. But still keep your eyes open. Never send money to a stranger for whatever reason particularly if you have not met the party you are communicating with. This can include asking for financial help because of loss of a family member, interest in pursuing education, health issues, robbery or even buying a plane ticket to meet up with you. Do not cash checks or money orders either. Monitor the language. Most of these online fraudsters are from the former Soviet republics and West Africa. So, if their use of English is fuzzy, it might be a "big red flag".

  • Physical Harm
  • Be careful when it's time to meet your date personally. Go to the venue using your own transportation. Meet in a public place. Let friends and family be aware of who you're going on a date with and where. Don't meet too late at night, not only for security reasons, but also, to prevent sending the wrong message that you intend to sleep over. Be wary of long-distance relationships with strangers. They can be either living overseas or claim to be local but on assignment in a foreign country. As much as you can, stay local because it greatly reduces your chances of being scammed. Scammers go for victims outside their own areas so as to evade the authorities. Google check profile names and try to match the details that you find to the profile to see if there are discrepancies. You can ignore a few differences, but be sure that there are no major dissimilarities between information available in the different sources.

  • Emotional Harm
  • Here are some ways to spot a player:

    1. They are too generous with compliments. An average player will praise you and shower you with sweet names from Alaska to Atlanta and back, without meaning a word of it.
    2. They talk AT you, not TO you. They are not listening to you nor are they having a conversation with you, you're just their object of practice for their next catch. That's why when you ask them a question they use vague and general terms because they weren't following the conversation. They immediately call you words of endearment like honey or babe for their convenience so they do not make the mistake of saying the wrong name.
    3. They didn't remember what you said 6 minutes ago. Because they weren't listening to you at first, they will ask an already answered question 2 or 3 times again. Don't be surprised if they ask for your last name 3 times.
    4. They are the ones who will almost force you to spend the night. Your announcement of "thank you for your time, I think I'll have to go now" hit them like a flash of lightning. They will say all manner of things to make you stay, even lie.
    5. They have an aversion to public displays of affection. They are the ones who can't hold your hand in public, because they think some other person might spot them. Worst are those who can't meet you over the weekend. Chances are they are married.

    Exercise: Though you do not want fraud to be your mind's main focus, you still want to know how to spot fake profiles. Better be safe than sorry. In this exercise, you would go to your Facebook messages and click the down arrow on top of the page which says "More". Then, select "filtered". You might not have seen this before but look at these people who have sent you messages. You can spot the scam artists as usually (since you do most likely do not have common friends) their messages will go to this filtered box in FB. I am sure you will be seeing some strangers hitting on you. If the man's profile says they are either from a Western European country or in the US and yet says they are working temporarily in Africa doing construction or are in the oil industry, you had better be careful. They can be actually Africans luring unaware singles to scam. You will also note that these men are only befriending women and most of the time, they look narcissistic as their profiles will have photos of only themselves. The women, on the other hand, will likely be gorgeous looking. It does not matter. They can still be posing as a woman but they can be profiles managed by men or women who have bad intent. Even if you have a common friend or two, please proceed with caution as some of your friends must have missed them particularly if they are using social media in their business.

    FIRST DATES DO NOT HAVE TO BE A TORTURE

    You probably have heard of or personally had some rough first-date experiences concerning online dating. It is a wonderful avenue of meeting people, but meeting someone over the net can be a source of apprehension. If you've exchanged messages and mails with this person, that should somehow help because at least you know something about your date. Meeting face-to-face should not be too much of an issue. Consider these online dating tips that will help you in setting the tone for your first date.

  • Getting information about your date
  • Understand that online dating is a thing of touch and feel and not a logically calculated process. Bearing in mind that you'll reach your goal of finding your soul mate, you understand that you'll have to find a way through the slush of uncertainty and doubt.

One way is the use of social media as a tool to get more information about your first date so you can better relate to him/her.

Facebook

The most popular social network platform in the world offers more than just sharing photos and clicking "like". It's one of the first places to go to find out more information about your date before the planned meeting date. Through the shares and posts on the person's Facebook page you can get the idea of what he/she likes and hates, the type of people he/she associates with and any other information you'll so require. You can even get to know the type of foods and books he/she likes. One added advantage of this is that you can use it to verify any claim made by the person in their dating profile. Be extra alert by paying attention on the different photos they have. If they claim to never have been married nor have any children but has many photos of the same person of the opposite sex and children in their profiles, do not disqualify the idea that they may be denying their status. Some can easily give excuses stating that they are in the process of separation or those children are their nephews or nieces.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the perfect place to carry out professional background checks. Not only will you be able to use the profile page of the person on this platform to know more about his/her employment details, the people they are connected with but also to validate the authenticity of whatever they wrote in their online dating profile.

Ask them

Your best bet at finding out about your online date is to ask them, before or during the date. You'll be surprised at what an open dialog can reveal about a person, even far more than any profile can. It is easier for the person to open up when you initiate the whole process by opening up yourself, this encourages them to do the same. Just be mindful of the information you divulge.