With 1 in 5 relationships now beginning online, it makes good sense to sign up to a dating site. But with 71% of online users lying about their age, height and figure, you not only need to be honest, but more importantly, you need to be safe.
I don't believe you should think that everyone on dating websites is a con artist or a murderer, but you do need to make sure you take proper safety precautions on every single date you go on, no matter how comfortable you might feel with that person.
The main concerns of online dating are financial fraud and physical safety, so you need to be vigilant from the start.
Don't send money to anyone you haven't met, you might think that sounds silly as why would anyone do that? But more people do it than you realize, last year in the UK, people on dating websites were conned out of around £39 million.
Never reveal any personal information about yourself such as your address or your bank details. And don't post any intimate pictures to them, they may be in fun, but they could potentially be used to blackmail you.
Sob stories that end in requests for money are all too common, just ignore them, none of it is true.
Don't feel pressured into meeting anyone before you are ready, if someone is pressuring you a lot then you should ask yourself why. If they are making you uncomfortable, report them to the website.
Never meet anyone at your home or theirs for a first date, meet in a well lit public place and if you think something feels off before you get there, leave immediately. The same applies if you are worried about your date's behavior, if they are scaring you then make your excuses and get out.
Keep an eye on your drink at all times, never leave it unattended, if you need to go to the bathroom then finish it first and order a new one when you get back. If your date has already ordered you one, don't drink it, think up an excuse such as "I'm driving" or "I have to be up early tomorrow so I better not drink too much"
Never go to someone's house if you don't want to, nobody should want you to if you are not comfortable, if they are trying to make you then leave as quickly as you can. You should always make your own way home after a first date too, don't let them drive you.
Always let someone know where you are going, when you get there and what the name of the person is, show them a picture if possible. Let them know if the date is going well or badly (excuse yourself and go to the bathroom) and tell them as soon as you get home.
If someone is coming to your home, keep all personal information such as bank statements out of sight. Conning isn't an instant thing, they could be working you to get to your info, so keep it in a safe place only you know about.
It all sounds a bit intimidating and like everyone is out to hustle or assault you, and not everyone is, but some people are. And those people ruin it for the rest of the online daters out there wanting to make a connection with one.
Don't go into online dating suspecting everyone, just be aware that things like this happen and you need to protect yourself from them, sometimes it is better to be a little suspicious at the start, than to be the victim of a crime.