Online dating is a great way to meet people who share your interests and passions. Every year, tens of thousands of people get married as a result of meeting on an online dating service. In general, online dating is regarded as a safe medium for meeting potential dates. Online dating safety begins with educating yourself on how to improve your experience and be safe doing it.
Trust your Instincts
Your instinct is a powerful medium for knowing when something doesn't feel right. As you read profiles, responses to emails, have phone conversations, and meet in person your instincts tell you if something is "right" or if something is "wrong".
Don't Provide Personal Information Too Soon
Providing your home phone number and full name allow easy access to who you are and where you live. Identify yourself by first name only.
Use a Free Email Account
If you decide to move your communication from the anonymous email feature provided by the majority of online dating services, consider using an email address that isn't your regular one. You can get free accounts through Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail just for online dating.
Use a Cell Phone or Anonymous Phone Service to Chat
When it's time to move your communications to the next level (talking on the phone), never give out your home number. Consider Skype or an anonymous phone service to chat.
Beware of Married People
It's unfortunate, but a lot of married people do use online dating services. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
Look for Questionable Characteristics in Your Communications
As you chat via email and on the phone you may be able to start to pick out characteristics of the other person. Are they controlling, anger easily, or avoid certain questions? These may be a sign to avoid delving in deeper communications with this person.
Ask for a Recent Photo
There is nothing wrong with asking someone if their photos are recent. It is important to get a good look at the person you may eventually meet. Plus your instincts from your communications and their photos may provide you with valuable insight into the person.
Stick With Paid Online Dating Services
Free online dating services provide a greater opportunity for potentially dangerous individuals. Remember the saying, "You get what you pay for".
Don't Get a False Sense of Security
Some online dating services claim to offer "background checks" and when signing up for such service you may find it easier to let your guard down. Laws differ from state to state when it comes to background checks and this lends to inconsistent reporting.
Meet in a Public Place for Your First Meeting
Arrange to meet in a public place and provide your own transportation. Your initial meeting will tell you a lot about the other person, including whether or not he/she lied in their profile. Make sure that a friend knows where you are at and who you are with.