Online Dating Safety Tips
Offline First Date Precautions
If you plan to join the growing population of online dating site members or presently involved, spend some time learning internet safety and online dating safety to insulate yourself from being targeted by men or women online engaged in nefarious online activities.
As a first step, thoroughly read the iPredator construct definition posted here. As a cybercriminal psychology researcher and internet safety educator this writer has designed a theoretical construct, iPredator, defining anyone who goes online to harm, exploit, victimize or abuse other online users. The only downside of Information and Communications Technology is the ability for some segments of the population to create fabricated online identities to take advantage of unsuspecting men, women and children.
Online Dating Safety Checklist
1. Make sure the online dating site posts their physical address, as well as a phone number for contact. A reputable online dating company always has a physical office within your geographic region, state or country. Like with any social networking site, it is important to do your homework and always approach with caution.
2. If you are interested in a particular dating site or service, do a Google search first and check out the first 3-5 pages to see what others have said about their services. Spending a good hour or two researching the site or service should give you a fair estimate of their reputation.
3. Make sure your personal details will not be visible or passed on to third parties. Read each online dating site’s privacy statement and make sure they specifically define if and how your personal information will be shared. Your personal information should always be highly guarded and only shared with those you trust implicitly.
4. Set up a new email account for online dating that will be separate from all personal and work accounts. Make it your personal dating email account. Do not use your work email, home email or emails you often access. It takes 15-20 minutes to sign up for an email account reserved for online dating.
5. Keep personal details private. An online dating site with your profile is designed to attract a potential partner. This doesn’t mean you need to disclose personal details on your profile or share any information that can be used by others to identify you or your home location. With some creative thought, you can communicate attributes about yourself without disclosing identification information.
6. Do not give away too much and remember to only give out a little. In addition to keeping your personal details closely guarded, review your entire profile, privacy settings and account settings to make sure you are not giving out any unnecessary information. Given that all social networking sites have multiple account, privacy and contact settings, be mindful of becoming familiar of all these functions before posting your profile.
7. Use a bland or regular Username. When choosing a username, be aware of loaded or hidden meanings it may have. Also, never use any part of your real name in your username or public profile. With some creative thought, you can design an attractive profile name that is not overly sexually provocative or disclosing personal information.
8. Use a private cell number or service. With today’s Information and Communications Technology, it is quite easy with a little effort to locate someone’s geographic location by their phone number. Just as easy it is to set up a separate online dating email address; it is also effortless to set up a private phone contact number.
9. Stick with paid online dating services. Although many of the free online dating sites are free to sign up and reputable, the fact that others can do the same cannot be overlooked. Most iPredators will look to target their prey at these sites because they do not have to pay using personally identifiable information. Although many of these sites are legitimate and save consumers membership fees, they still can’t verify their members are who they’re portraying themselves to be. This is true as well for paid sites but having to pay with a credit card decreases the iPredator pool.
10. Arrange to meet. When meeting for the first time, never allow your date to pick you up from your home. In fact, your date should not even know where you live. It certainly is acceptable letting the person know why you are requiring that this forum is mandatory. If they dispute this request, they clearly have little respect for your wishes and indicates their motives may not be genuine.
11. Meet in a public place. For a first date, always meet in a public place where other people are close by. You may also want to consider going out with a group of people, or a double date. As It is important to meet first at an arranged location, It is equally imperative to meet in a public place.
12. If you insist and/or agree to share the bill on the date, bring along your wallet or pocketbook and pay with cash. Never pay using a credit card as it can leave a paper trail of your home or work location.
13. Use your own transportation to your public meeting place for your first date and be sure to tell that person in a creative way loved ones know who you are with and where. Not only does providing your own transportation give you a quick exit if the person is not who they claimed to be, it prevents them from knowing where you work and live.
14. Always, tell a friend or loved one where you are going. Be sure someone knows where you are going, whom you’ll be with and a time you’ll be calling him or her to let them know you are fine. It also does not hurt to let your date know, in a creative way, that you are obliged to call that contact to tell them of your whereabouts.
15. It is always safer to give out your cell phone number instead of your home phone number. Never give out your home phone number before or after your first date. If for some reason you could not secure a private phone number as suggested in Tip #8 before the date, inform them you will contact them the following day or email them once you have settled in for the evening.
16. Do your homework. Only sign up for dating sites or services after you have carefully read the Terms & Conditions, understand their billing and checked out their reputation. It may take an hour to review, but it will specifically state what you are authorizing the site can do about your personal information.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a NYS licensed psychologist, cyberpsychology researcher and online safety educator. In 2009, Dr. Nuccitelli finalized his dark side of cyberspace concept called iPredator. Since 2010, he has advised those seeking information about cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cybercriminal minds, internet addiction and his Dark Psychology concept. By day Dr. Nuccitelli is a practicing psychologist, clinical supervisor and owner of MN Psychological Services, PLLC. After work and on the weekends, he volunteers helping online users who have been cyber-attacked. Dr. Nuccitelli’s is always available to interested parties and the media at no cost. This website and everything created by Dr. Nuccitelli is educational, free and public domain.