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Tips for Safe Online Dating

If you're tired of being set up on dates that don't work out, online dating can be a promising alternative. And you're not alone. Over 40 million Americans use online dating services. It's also lost its stigma over the last few years. A majority of Americans agree that online dating is a good way to meet people - not a sign that you're desperate.

Just as the world isn't always a safe place, neither is the internet. It's estimated that 10 percent of sex offenders use online dating to meet people. Aside from sex offenders, there are also identity thieves to watch out for. It's not uncommon for them to target dating sites to carry out their scams.

A few simple tips can lower your risk of becoming a victim and better ensure your online safety.

Don't Post Contact Information

Avoid posting your address, phone number and personal email. Also make sure that this information can't be found on your other profiles. It's important to have control over your personal information rather than letting the social networks decide. For instance, if someone does a search on you, they can find that you recently checked into a pizza place on Foursquare if you use the default settings.

Watch for Red Flags

Are there things that don't add up with the person you're talking to? Be aware of potential red flags that can indicate false information. Here are a few things to look for.

  • Celebrity-worthy picture
  • Excessive spelling and grammar errors
  • Talks of destiny and fate
  • Rushing the relationship
  • Asking for your address to send flowers
  • Living or traveling abroad

Be Your Own Detective

Many people snoop online when it comes to their friends or coworkers, so don't hesitate to do the same with a person you've met online. Ask them questions, and ask them again later in a different way. Be on alert for stories that don't add up or answers that don't match.

Run a Background Check

Take your time before you actually meet someone in person. When you feel that you're ready to take this step, you may want to run a background check to find out more about this person. For trustworthy, accurate information, hire a private investigator. If there's anything the person has been caught for, you'll know about it.

And of course, always meet in a public place and arrange for your own transportation. There is nothing wrong with protecting yourself.



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