The most important Internet dating safety tip is that you should pay close attention to your instinct. This holds true whether you are chatting with someone online, meeting in person, or talking on the phone. Think of your instinct as an early warning system that is there to help keep you out of trouble. If someone says or does something that seems dishonest they probably are. Pay attention if something seems odd, out of place, risky, or untrue. If you feel unsure or threatened by the person or the circumstances, bail.
Never post your full name, address, or your phone number online. Only reveal your first name because a full name and city is often sufficient for someone to run an background check on you to obtain your home address, phone number, and other vital information. You should also be careful about the information you openly publish on social networking sites too because its the first place predators will look to learn extra information about you. Remember that Facebook and other social networking sites offer security mechanisms to protect your information – learn to use it or ask a friend to help you.
It is important to be honest without revealing too much personal information. If someone online seems to be prying or asking for more information than you want to reveal it might be time to end the chat. Alternatively, you could say, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell you that, just yet. Remember, I don’t really know you.” The other person should be understanding and stop pushing you for info. If not, it’s time to end the conversation.
Online be sure you use a third party email account that provides anonymity. These are plenty of sources to obtain an free email address including: Google, Yahoo, and MSN just to name a few. Setup a username that contains no more than your first name such as Alice2011 or Joe999. Retain a copy of all email correspondence by sending a blind copy (bcc) of each message to yourself and retain a copy of all messages received from others.
The experts suggest keeping your phone number a secret, at least for a while. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of excitement over a new relationship but what if you decide to end it? Setup an free account on Skype.com in advance so that you can give someone your Skype username, like “Sandy1”. Many people have had the unpleasant experience of having to change phone numbers, because an “ex” would not leave us alone. Whether you meet someone in a bar or in an online dating chat rooms, you need to think about things like that. This caution might not seem very romantic, but it is practical.
When you do decide it is time to “meet in real life”, choose a public location for the meeting and provide your own transportation. Consider having a friend accompany you or drop you off. If things go well, your friend can make a casual exit. Alternatively, tell a family member or a friend where you are going and when they should expect to hear from you or see you. Make sure your date knows that someone is expecting to hear from you later. The reason for these safety measures is simple. Predators and con-artists use both free and paid dating chat rooms. They target people who they believe to be weak. You don’t want to become a victim. Meeting for lunch in the mall is a good idea for a first date. An afternoon meeting on the weekend is a better choice than an evening meeting. Stay in a public place even if you are pressured. If someone continues to pressure you end the meeting.
Stick to non-alcoholic drinks when meeting anyone for the first time. Alcohol does not make the best first impression and it could cause you to be less alert than you should be. When meeting someone new, carefully observe your drinks at all times and ask for a fresh drink when you return after being absent for any reason.
For long-distance meetings a few extra precautions are suggested. Stay in a hotel and do not accept any accommodation offers. Don't agree to be picked up at the airport. Provide your own transportation. Don't transmit any cell phone images to a prospective date via email because can be used to locate you if your cell phone has GPS enabled.
These safety measures are not meant to be discouraging. Plenty of people have found love online. People who are actually looking for love should be just as cautious as you.
About The Author
As a well-known Internet dating safety advocate, Sarah T. Connor has been actively advocating the passage of Internet dating safety laws. She is also a successful dating advice guru and the publisher of Free-Date.net, a 100% totally free online dating and matching service for singles who are looking for that special someone. Sarah Connor has a B.S. Degree from the University of Maryland.