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How to stay safe while dating online
I know, I know .... the thought of dating again after coming out of a marriage or long-term ralationship is daunting, intriguing and, if we're honest, a little terrifying.
But trust me, once you dip your toe in the water again, the attention and new friendships can do wonders for your bruised self-esteem. Just be sure to leave all your baggage, which you've hopefully processed post-breakup, at the door.
Read more from The Midlife Single: The 12 types of men on online dating sites
In fact, online dating can be a lot of fun, but you do need to keep your wits about you, to keep both yourself and your finances safe.
After all, we've all heard the horror stories about rape, stalkers, catfishers and scammers.
So without further ado, here's my commonsense tips to make sure you don't fall victim to someone dodgy:
- Pick a reputable site. Don't move any conversations away from that site unless you're confident the person is who they say they are.
- Get to know the person, not the profile. Don't be scared or embarrassed to ask questions of the person, and don't feel obligated to reply if it doesn't feel right. I also don't respond if their profile has no photos, since to me, this is indication of something to hide.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances, send money or bank details to someone you've met online. Also, if they say they are a cardiologist/UN peacekeeper/military officer looking for a husband/wife and are not located in your city, be concerned (what sounds too good to be true usually is a Nigerian scammer, or similar).
- Don't give away too many personal details. Don't reveal your full name, DoB, home address or workplace. A simple joining of these dots could lead to your identity theft.
- Check that the person you've met is genuine. Do this by going online and looking for their name and photos. Do a Facebook search. Remember, it's your own safety you're looking out for.
- Always report any fraudulent activity to police and the website you've joined.
- If it doesn't feel right (they are pressuring you, being disrespectful, chasing personal information they don't need), then unmatch, block or delete them.
- If and when you do meet, make sure it is a well-frequented public space. If you feel more comfortable meeting during the day, organise a coffee date at a cafe.
- Never invite someone to pick you up at home or your workplace for your date.
- Notify a friend that you are going on a date and leave your love interest's name and phone number with them as back up.
- Stay sober on your date. Relax and have fun, but keep your personal security front and centre.
- Most importantly, don't ignore your gut feelings.
If you follow this advice, you'll be eradicating a lot of the risk before it eventuates -- ensuring you and your date cacn focus on what counts, getting to know each other.
Have fun and if you have any safety tips or words of wisdom of your own, please leave your thoughts in the comments.