When you decide to meet your online date in person, set up a safety net, so someone knows where you are and when you’ll be back. Whether it’s your roommate, best friend, or mom, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll check in (by texting or calling).
There are also apps out there that can alert emergency services or your trusted contacts, if you turn it on. Think of it like a panic button. There are many of these on the market such as Kitestring or BSafe.
As a last resort, if you’re in a public space, don’t hesitate to let someone know that you don’t feel safe. If your date is making you uncomfortable, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and notify the bartender, server, or other personnel that you don’t feel safe and need help to leave without making a scene.
Just knowing that someone else is watching out for you can make you feel more comfortable about making the leap to meeting people in person.
6. Do a background check
Catfishing and scamming are unfortunately becoming common issues in the online dating world. If something feels fishy, be sure to Google your new friend and look for some warning signs, as it’s possible they’re aren’t who they say they are. Ask yourself.
- How many friends do they have on their social media account(s)?
- Are those friends all men or all women?
- Do they have multiple profiles on one social media platform?
- Do they have profiles on multiple social media platforms?
- Do they interact with friends online?
- Use reverse image search to make sure their photos aren’t stolen from another profile
- Look them up on Spokeo
- Find out if they’re using a script to talk to you
- Check to see if their profile images are altered
You can never be too careful. There are a lot of tools online for checking to see if someone is who they say they are.
7. Don’t just text
Don’t just text, either. Why not try the old-fashioned approach and have a simple phone call with someone before meeting them in person? What about video calls? Surely someone who is being honest with you and likes you for who you are can’t refuse a simple request like that.
It can be a good screening mechanism — if someone doesn’t want to show your their face over a video call or let you hear their voice over a phone call, they might be hiding something about their identity.
8. Don’t give out financial information
Just don’t. Anyone who asks for money should send up an immediate red flag for your finely honed gut instincts.
If you have good reasons to give someone money (for example, splitting a meal or movie tickets), use cash or a secure peer-to-peer payment app like Venmo.
9. Report or block them
Finally, if someone is trolling you or you don’t want them around, don’t be afraid to block them and report them if appropriate.
Most dating apps now have a function for reporting users who are scamming others or just being inappropriate. Reporting people isn’t only for you, it helps to protect everyone who is using the app.
As the digital world becomes an intrinsic part of our lives, it’s important that you take steps to protect yourselves. Using a Burner number is only one way, but it’s a good first step. Use these tips and trust your instincts to help protect your privacy when dating online.
Always have a plan B. In the day and age of ride-sharing and cell phones, there’s no excuse for getting in a car with a stranger. And always use a Burner number if Uber or Lyft (or other ridesharing app) drivers ask for a contact number outside of the app.