How to Protect Yourself When Online Dating [9 Things to Remember and a Tool to Use]

Photo : Unsplash/Markus Winkler

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes in the world. People have been isolated, so they're lonely and bored.

What do people do when they're lonely and bored? They tend to flock to dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. Like in any platform with millions of users, dating apps also have scammers lurking around. Each year, $200 million is lost to online dating scams, according to the FTC.

Still, this does not mean you should stop dating online. You only need to be careful, and some tools can keep you safe. 

CallerSmart is an app that protects you from unknown or unwanted phone calls and text messages. When meeting new people online, exchanging phone numbers would be the first thing you do. CallerSmart offers an immense database of phone numbers and crowd-sourced information that helps you check your potential date's number. You can check if anyone has commented on this person. The comments will give you an idea of the kind of person your potential date is. 

CallerSmart also came up with a guide on how you can protect yourself while online dating. Let's take a look.  

Getting Started

Take precautions when setting up your profile when you are just getting started with dating apps. Make a separate email that you'd use only for dating. Doing so allows you to close the account if you feel like you don't want to talk to whoever you are dating anymore. 

If the dating app requests or requires a social media account like Facebook, either you create a separate profile or restrict your privacy setting by making all information only viewable to yourself. 

Finally, while making your profile on the dating app, avoid giving too personal information like your full name.  

Initial Contact

Exchange messages with potential dates only on the dating app. Give your personal email address only when you can trust the person. Check the profiles of those whom you are talking with online. Check the photo, especially because if it appears in other sites, chances are this person is hiding his true identity. You can do a reverse search on Google by right-clicking the image and selecting "Search Google for this Image." A separate tab will open for Google's search results. 

Remember to trust your instinct. If you get suspicious of a person, then chances are there really is something wrong. 

Be careful of people who respond quickly also; they could be bots. Also, when you receive a strange link, NEVER CLICK! It could be a kind of malware. Other red flags would be as follows:

  • The person asks to talk to you in private through email or other messaging services the first time you meet him or her online.  
  • The person immediately expresses their love only in a few days. 
  • The person can't meet in person because of distance, and when the meet-up is about to happen, an emergency takes place. 
  • Most importantly, when the person asks for money. 

Before the Date

If you decide to meet in person and you exchange phone numbers, then this is when downloading CallerSmart becomes useful. It has records of over 600 million U.S. phone numbers. You can search anyone's number and check if there are comments about this person. There could be positive or negative comments; both are useful if you are deciding to take the next step in your online dating. 

Once you've cleared your date's number, it's time to decide details of the meet-up. Take note of the following.  

  • Suggest meeting in a public place like a restaurant to meet up.
  • Do not let your date pick you up at your house.
  • Let friends and family know about your date: the name, the when, and where. Let then know when you arrive at the venue and when you're done and about to go home. Sharing your GPS location would be great also. 

During the Date

Go to the meeting place early, and don't park near the location if you are bringing a car. Doing this allows you to hide your car's details from your date. It's just a precaution from when your instinct tells you something's wrong. At least your date doesn't know your car's details. 

Otherwise, have fun, but never forgetting to keep a clear head. Avoid drinking alcohol. If it cannot be avoided, control your intake. 

After the Date

If the date goes well, then congratulations to you. It would be great to meet again. 

However, if things didn't go well, and you don't know how to say what you're thinking, apps like SlyDial would help. When you call the person, you can connect directly to his or her voicemail, thus avoiding any awkward conversations if you called to break up. 

If the person is harassing you through phone calls or text messages, block his or her phone numbers. Try a community caller ID app also to comment on someone who is harassing you. If the harassment continues, contact the local authorities.

Dating is a lot of fun, but only if you know, you are safe. 

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