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Swipe Right, Stay Safe: A Guide to Secure Online Dating

Updated: Mar 12

Many people fall for romance scams when trying to find their soulmate online, however, not only are they at risk for monetary loss, but identity fraud as well.

According to data analyzed by Sift 10 percent of dating profiles are fake, which means for every 100 profile 10 are fake, YIKES.

Not only are scams a big deal, but your online footprint in the dating world can open the door for unwanted stalkers online and for some unfortunately physical confrontations.

Below I will give you 10 cybersecurity tips on how to stay safe online, so you can swipe right for love not for loss.

1). Guarding Your Digital Trail

Believe it or not many people add to many unwanted details to their profiles, no not their weird hobbies, but personal information such as their birthday, location. These combine with your name can be reverse searched on sites like Spokeo, People finder, and other data brokers that sell your information for a price, leading for personal sensitive information to be released. Moral of story don't add information that will accidentally cause you to dox yourself.

2). Do not reuse same photos used on social media

Reusing old photos from your social accounts is an easy way to become a target of unwanted social media stalking and harassment. Someone can reverse search the photo on Google and easily find your social media accounts. Always use fresh photos that hasn't been used anywhere else to lower the chances of social media accounts being discovered online. Yes, now there are ways to find other peoples accounts suing websites such as Tineye, ScopeNow, etc. However, using new photos lessens the way stalkers an find your online profiles online.

3). Secure your financial information

First red flag is the typical I got sick please send me money for hospital bill scam. Scammers are good at posing as potential dates, and lure you into a sense of security. Never share Debit or credit card numbers online as this can lead to credit card and bank fraud. This is also Known as Pig Butchering, no not the slaughtering of pigs, but feeding and nurturing you emotionally only to then squeeze every penny out of you, hence butchering you financially.

4). Safe and Smart First Dates

Doing research on your first date location is crucial as it will help you stay safe from dangerous areas that could make you vulnerable. Always read the reviews of the establishment and when chatting online keep clear communication with potential date on where you will meet. Agree to meet up in public places where there are other people.

5). The Benefits of Background Checks

It is a good rule of caution to do background check on your potential date. Making sure your potential date is not a sex offender or has a crimanal background is a good way of staying safe, out of drama, or getting scammed. For more information on how to conduct these background checks, check out this site. Also you can use data brokers such as Spokeo, People Finder, etc to see if your date is genuine.

6). Research your dating app for authenticity

Choosing the right dating app is crucial to staying safe and not falling for scams online. Read the reviews online as many dating apps have been found to be full of scam bots, or steal people's financial information. Another rule of thumb is to always use well known established sites such as Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Cupid, etc.

7). Customizing Your Privacy Settings

No matter what dating app you choose to use always remember you are in control on how your information is used or shared. A good suggestion is to go to your dating apps privacy settings and figure out what information is being shown and shared. This mitigates the risk of having the wrong information shared with a stalker or cyber criminal. Some apps also allow you to hide birthday and some aspects of your name to prevent your information from being leaked, or accessed from unwanted parties.

8). Exercising Caution with Video Calls

When we talk online and get to know others we become eager to see what we really look like with a video call to get to know the person more. However, excercise caution when doing video calls because other than finding out if someone is a catfish, video calls can lead to a stalker or cyber criminal using videos against you based on your activities. Also this can lead to unwanted harassment. A good suggestion is to start video calls once you reach safe communication after some time talking, and after a first date.

9). Legal Aspects of Online Dating Safety

Many let harassment and online fraud get far because people believe online activity can't be persecuted by the law. This is false as harassment anywhere whether physical, or online is still harassment and illegal. First step is always report harassment to your datings app safety staff, and block the account causing the harassment. Some dating apps don't take safety into account, and may not have safety measures in place to protect you, so if it doesn't work its best to head to your local police station and file a report. This leads to the next tip in staying safe on online dating.

10). Responsible Closure: Ending Relationships Online

Not all relationships end like the fairy tales with the prince and princess running away happily ever after. If you see yourself not moving foreword in an online relationship it's time to move foreword and end the relationship. First clearly communicate with your online partner you are no longer interested in pursuing a relationship and your breaking up. Second if date doesn't take it well and doesn't respect your body Erie's block the account associated with him and any social media he uses to follow you. Third if harassment occurs report account or your apps safety staff, and if required law enforcement.

Above were the 10 cybersecurity tips to stay safe online and physically. Spread this to your friends or family who are planning to date online to spread awareness. Remember that although scams can't be completely stop it can be slowed down and mitigated through user awareness and education.

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