With online dating apps and websites at your fingertips, meeting someone new is just a few taps on your smartphone away. How exciting is that! The freedom and convenience are simply unmatched and the anonymous of the interaction adds to the allure of the online dating game. Throwing caution to the winds and accepting a dating invitation from a charming stranger can often be all too exciting to miss.

However, with freedom always comes greater responsibility – the responsibility of using your freedom wisely. You need to be ultra-vigilant to not trust a stranger blindly. Don’t expect the dating app to act as your private detective to dig up all the background information about your probable dating partner. It is your responsibility to be cautious before making any dating decisions.

However, in spite of your best precautions, if you fall prey to an unfortunate incidence of a sexual assault, don’t curse yourself for the bad decision. After all, you are human and humans often make bad decisions. If someone tries to take advantage of your gullibility, it’s not really your fault. It simply reflects on the offender’s crooked character.

We are presenting some useful tips to make the most of your online dating experience without putting your personal security at risk. Although these tips don’t offer a foolproof guarantee of your safety, they will definitely help minimize the risk - whether you interact with potential dating partners virtually or in real life.

Safety precautions when connecting with someone online

Always use a unique photo for your dating profile:
Never use the same photo for your dating profile that you use on your social media profiles. It can easily be misused to do a reverse image search in Google to trace your personal details from your social profiles.

Stay away from suspicious profiles:
Be wary of anything that appears dubious as there are many wolves in a sheep’s clothing online. A genuine profile will give you a reasonably clear picture of a man’s personality and lifestyle. An incomplete bio, absence of social media links, a lonesome photograph should all ring a loud and clear bell of caution to you.

Be your own social media detective:
Scout through your potential match’s social profiles and any other online references you can get your hands on. Scan every personal detail scrupulously for authenticity. If you happen to have mutual friends on social media, use those connections smartly to make sure that your potential match is not “catfishing” you with a fake account.

Block and report the offenders:
Don’t put up with any bullshit from anyone on the dating site. It is your responsibility towards yourself and towards the entire dating community to voice your concern.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened, you have the power to anonymously report that person to the administrators or block him from connecting with you in the future. Also, remember that people often use the anonymity factor to misrepresent themselves online. Therefore, you should take every claim on a user’s profile with a grain of salt. Trust your own instincts to decide whom to trust.

Beware of these tricks used by scammers:

Some of the most commonplace scamming tricks used to build sympathy and trust in the minds of gullible females and to eventually manipulate and exploit these innocent victims are as follows.

Be cautious when someone,

  • Asks for financial assistance – especially to help out in a sudden personal crisis.
  • Claims to be from the abroad and currently living, working or traveling in India.
  • Claims to have lost a partner recently and has children to take care of.
  • Disappears suddenly from the site and reappears with a different name.
  • Gives vague and dubious answers to specific questions.
  • Uses overly flattering or romantic language too early in the communication.
  • Pressures you for your phone number or to communicate outside the dating app or site.
  • Requests your home or work address under the guise of sending flowers or gifts.
  • Tells inconsistent or grandiose stories.
  • The language and grammar don’t reflect the higher educational level claimed in the profile.
  • Makes too good to be true claims or offers.

Behaviors you should immediately report:

Here is a list of certain behaviors that should instantly trigger caution in your mind and you shouldn’t hesitate reporting it immediately.

  • Requesting financial assistance.
  • Requesting photographs.
  • The person is a minor.
  • Harassing or offensive messages.
  • Threatening or intimidating behavior.
  • A seemingly fake profile.
  • Trying to be over-friendly and helpful too soon.
  • Trying to sell your products or services.

Never share your personal information on dating apps or websites:
Avoid sharing your personal details such as social security number, credit card details, bank information, or work or home address to a stranger. Dating sites or apps never ask for your login credentials or any other sensitive, personal data. So if a potential match asks for it, beware! Simply delete such requests and if someone pressures you for it, definitely consider reporting it to the website administrators.

Never respond to financial requests:
Refrain from responding to people who play the sympathy card to garner monetary favors from you. Never respond to pleadings for sending money overseas or via wire transfer as that money is more likely to disappear in thin air, leaving you feeling robbed and frustrated. Simply get rid of such requests and report to the website administrators, ASAP!

Safety precautions when meeting someone in person

Once you have decided to meet in person a potential match you met online, don’t assume too soon that now everything is hunky-dory. Take every step with caution until you are completely convinced that the person is truly what he is showing to be online. Consider the following tips to stay safe when you meet the match in real life:

Video chat before meeting in person:
After the initial drill of getting acquainted with someone and chatting online, consider scheduling a video chat before meeting him in person. This is a great way to know if the person is genuine or fake. If he strongly and persistently resists the idea, this should set off alarm bells for you, loud and clear.

Inform a close friend about your scheduled date:L
et at least one of your trusted friend know about your dating plan along with the exact date, time and location. You can even send her a screenshot of your date’s personal profile. If you happen to change the date venue at the last moment, make sure that you text your friend about the change of plans too. Text or call her during the date and ask her to check-in after you get back home.

Always meet at a public place:
You should never meet an almost strange rat your or his house or at a secluded location like a public park. That will be too risky for your own good. Always insist on meeting in a public place such as a restaurant, coffee shop or bar where there are enough people around. The chances of your date misbehaving under such circumstances are rather bleak. Follow this rule strictly, at least for a few initial meetings with that person, until you are confident that he is genuine and harmless.

 Get your own transportation:
This includes your transportation to and from the date location – particularly if you are going on a date with that person for the first time. Don’t feel flattered or obliged by his courtesy to pick you up for the date. Drive in your own vehicle or rent one using a ride sharing app. That way, you can drive yourself right out of the date venue if you feel any discomfort or danger. When it comes to your personal safety, it is always best to stay in the driver’s seat, right?

Just make sure that you have more than one ride-sharing apps on your phone so that you have options at hand if one of them fails to deliver. Needless to say, you should have your phone equipped with enough data and keep the battery fully charged. You may even carry your portable charger with you, just in case.

Stay easy on alcohol or drugs:

Having a few drinks on a date is perfectly normal as it makes you feel relaxed and may even facilitate smooth interpersonal interaction. However, don’t cross your limits just to keep up with your dating partner’s drinking style and volume. Drugs are a strict no-no as they can seriously twist your perception or have unexpected consequences when combined with alcohol.

Count on the bartender or waiter for help:
A bartender or waiter can come to your rescue if you sense any discomfort or threat on the date by simply distracting the offender, making a call to the police or drive you home safely.

Trust your instincts:
Always trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable with the person you are on a date with. Often, your gut feeling will offer you a saner counsel and help you stay away from a possible mishap. Don’t hesitate to call the date off and leave the venue immediately, as nothing is more important than your own safety.

If your dating experience has left a bitter taste in your mouth, go back to the dating app or websites as soon as you can to block and report the person. This way, not only will you be able to block him from contacting you back but you will also help save many other girls who might unwittingly fall into his trap in the future.

We are sure that these simple tips will help you stay safe without taking away the thrill and excitement of the online dating experience.