Swipe left? Swipe right? With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many singles are looking for romance. And increasingly, they are turning to dating apps and web sites like Tinder and Match.com to find relationships. Aside from the risks of predators and STDs, online dating is a perfect way to meet scammers.
That’s why the Vancouver Police Department launched its Date Safe web page, which lists online dating safety tips and anecdotes from victims. Here are some online dating safety tips from the VPD and other organizations (listed below):
Don’t share too much.
- Limit your personal information on your profile
- Use a photo you haven’t posted elsewhere online.
- Apps like Tinder require you to register using your Facebook account, so review your privacy settings and limit any publicly accessible information and images.
- Avoid revealing photos or web cam footage—they can be downloaded and posted elsewhere without your knowledge or consent. Would you let your family see the images you post?
- Take a screenshot of anyone you’re interested in and do a Google image search for that person.
- Google the person’s full name and confirm where they live and work.
- Check whether you have any friends in common via social media or within the app.
- Collect as much information as you can about someone before meeting them.
- Ask about the other person’s interests and specific details of their day-to-day life.
- Create a separate email account to communicate with potential dates.
- Communicate within the app’s chat room, email or messaging functions only.
- Do not provide your phone number until you have met and are comfortable with your date.
- Use video chatting. More and more apps include this function.
Find Safety in Numbers.
- For a first date, meet in a public place, such as a restaurant, and stay somewhere public. Do NOT meet at your home or give out your address. Do not allow your date to pick you up in a car.
- Consider getting together with other friends in a more traditional group date. Try not to spend time alone until you have met each other’s friends.
- Always let a friend know where you’re going and who you’re meeting. Provide any contact information you may have.
- Consider popping into a restroom during a date to update your friend.
- Get together for a morning date—brunch, lunch or a hike, perhaps—so you have an excuse to get away.
- A short first date is perfectly acceptable.
- Go home alone, at least for the first date or two.
- If any contact asks you for money or for your banking information,
- Don’t trust profiles or stories designed to gain sympathy: a recent widow, a desperately ill family member, a request for a loan to visit you.
- Don’t allow time to cloud your judgement. Some scammers take time to develop relationships.
- Be cautious with profiles from foreign countries and long-distance relationships.
- If anyone pressures you for contact and financial information, report them to the dating service.
- Beware anyone offering you money or a sure-fire get-rich-quick scheme.
- Be skeptical if anyone declares s/he is in love with you too quickly. Use your common sense and consult a friend.
- Phishing emails claiming to be from your dating site may ask for personal information.
- Be wary of opening email attachments from someone you’ve just met.
- Guard your password and make sure internet security software is up-to-date.
- Double check the URL and type it in yourself instead of clicking on a link in a SPAM email or message.
- Beware apps or sites with fake profiles that keep you active and paying fees.
- Dishonest dating web sites may stop sending you contacts and messages as soon as you have paid your memberships fees.
- Check whether your dating service provider belongs to the Online Dating Association and report any concerns with member organizations to the ODA.
Finally, trust your instincts. Never put up with offensive or threatening behaviour online or in person. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to cut a date short. And if anything does go wrong, the police and other organizations are there to help.
Date Safe. Online Dating Association.
Date Safe. Vancouver Police Department.
Gray, Max D. How to be safe on Tinder. One How To (Technology).
Horwood, Katy. 7 tips for staying safe while online dating. Independent, February 9, 2016.
Lovgreen, Tina. Online dating? Vancouver police warn of potential predators. CBC News, October 4, 2017.
Oberliesen, Elise. 7 Safety tips to remember for online dating. The Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2017.
Safe Online Dating. Getting Safe Online.
Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, We encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.