According to CBC, there are over 40 million visitors to online dating sites in the US and 7 million in Canada. Although these numbers may seem staggering, there are millions of other still who are hesitant to delve into the world of dating online. Why is this? What are the real risks of online dating? How can you keep yourself safe on and offline?
The first, and one of the most important rules is to never reveal any personal information, especially on a public profile where anyone with the internet can access it. Personal information of this nature includes real names, addresses, phone numbers, and any other sensitive information, especially banking or financial information. Contact information, like phone numbers and addresses should only be given to people once a certain level of trust and regular communication has been established. When dating online, protecting sensitive personal information that others can use to get access to money, personal files, and so on, can help protect your finances, and personal safety.
Meeting people from online dating sites face to face is also often perceived as quite risky. While there certainly are risks involved with meeting new people, certain safety precautions can, and should, be taken. For example, always meet in a public place, and keep a cell phone with you at all times. Tell a friend where you’re going, and who with. It’s also a good idea to designate a check in time, where you’ll call a friend to tell them where you are and how things are going, and let them know you’re safe.
Many people who stay away from dating online do so because of the perceived risks of meeting strangers over the internet. Though there certainly are risks to online dating, proper safety precautions and awareness of risks and strategies can help minimize these risks and make dating online a safe and enjoyable experience.