In the grand scheme of things, dating apps and sites have presented us a convenient and exciting way to meet and connect with new friends. However, it also introduced a fresh batch of threats that can put users’ valuable information at risk.
Networking with new people online through websites and apps makes you more vulnerable to scams, identity theft, and online harassment. This, of course, doesn’t include the physical dangers if and/or when you decide to meet up in real life.
In hindsight, how the other person treats you is out of your control, what you can manage though is your online safety and security. In this article, we talked to some of our friends in the industry to know how you can protect yourself and your privacy on online dating apps.
Here are some of their suggestions:
Amanda Rose, Founder, and CEO of Prestige Connections and Dating Boutique shares:
1. Never Include Personal Information on Your Profile
This includes your last name, email, place of employment, phone number, school or neighborhood. It’s easy to track someone with just one of these pieces of information.
2. Post Photos that Don’t Reveal Your Frequently Visited Places
Don’t post photos with you in front of your home, work or school. I’ve also seen people post photos with a work shirt on. This automatically gives your location away.
3. Don’t Post Photos of You with Your Children
You’re giving up the privacy of your children’s identity to thousands of strangers.
Amber Lee, Certified Matchmaker, and CEO of Select Date Society says:
1. Never Reveal Where You Work
If you mention the office building you work in and the person you’re talking to turns out to be a creep, you don’t want them popping up at your job.
2. Don’t Give Out Your Phone Number Before Meeting in Person
Limit communication to using the app. If someone Googles your phone number, they can find out your address and other personal information about you.
3. Don’t Give Out Identifying Information About Your Children
This can include details such as what sports league they play in or what school they go to.
4. Don’t Reveal Your Date of Birth
Even saying your age and zodiac sign can make it easy to get the month and year in which you were born.
5. Don’t Reveal Upcoming Travel Plans or Even Plans to Go Out Locally
If you say the restaurant you are meeting friends at on Friday night, you don’t want a stranger showing up there.
6. Inform People Close to You About Your Whereabouts During a Date
Always meet in a well-lit public place for your first date and tell a friend your plans, checking in with him or her both before and after the date.
Harman Singh, Director of Cyphere suggests:
1. Know that Less is More
Consider it carefully first what you want to share online. Limiting your information (such as your employer or phone number) doesn’t make you weaker, however, doing it on need only basis is a wiser move.
2. Understand Location Tracking Features
Don’t let your online profiles without carefully checking your account settings. For example, location settings or pictures with metadata may disclose your location information.
3. Use your Images Carefully
This is because someone can easily track more information about you using reverse image search.
4. Trust but Verify
Always do a little research. Do not trust on providing any sensitive information such as personal information or financial information.
Heinrich Long, Privacy Expert at Restore Privacy explains:
1. Using Your Real Name is Just Asking for Trouble
I recommend not using your real name. Until you get to know the person you’re talking to, at least a little bit, play it safe and use a fake name. That’ll give you an ounce of privacy and won’t allow just anyone to Google you and find out all sorts of things about you.
It goes without saying that you should never ever give out personal information, like address or phone number, or financial information. In fact, I wouldn’t even provide social media accounts, as you’d be surprised at how much can be found out from your Facebook page alone.
Jeremy Harrison, Founder of Hustle Life underlines:
1. Be an Expert in Checking Profile Pictures
Use websites like tineye.com to see if there are matches to the photo anywhere else on the internet. Match what they say and what’s in their profile. A mismatch would likely mean they’re fake.
At the end of it all, protecting identities on online dating websites isn’t a piece of cake and every year, there is a significant rise in dating scams. The CEO of artificial intelligence-powered identity verification service provider Shufti Pro, Victor Fredung, explains that people can simply protect themselves by registering on platforms that verify everyone during the onboarding process. This will ensure that fraudsters stay away from legitimate users on the website.