DENVER (KDVR) — Millions of people are using online dating services and apps every day. Online dating can be scary, especially considering the countless catfish stories.
With apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, among many others, protecting yourself can be the same across the board.
Many are wondering what they can do to stay safe after arrest documents showed that a 22-year-old woman tied up a man she met on Tinder inside her Colorado Springs apartment for hours, while she apparently stabbed, choked, and threatened to kill him.
Here are some important reminders and pieces of advice to protect yourself if you decide to venture into the world of online dating.
What are the risks of online dating?
Get Safe Online said that there are risks you might not consider when it comes to online dating.
“The vast majority of people using dating sites are sincere and honest in the information they provide and in their reasons for joining. However, there are exceptions, and you need to be aware of how to keep yourself – and your bank account and savings – protected while meeting people online,” the site shared.
Here are some of those risks:
- Stalking and harassment
- People masquerading as someone they’re not
- Webcam blackmail- Someone could record things you do in front of your webcam and then use the recording to get money from you
- Potential theft of your money if you do not use a secure link when making payments
Your dating profile
When it comes to setting up your dating profile on a reputable dating site, it is important to take extra precautions to stay secure.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network said there are easy steps to keep yourself safe:
- Use different photos for your dating profile than you use on social media. If you use the same photos, someone could use Google to do a reverse image search and find your social media accounts.
- Choose a username that does not let everyone know who you are
- Keep your contact details private
- Be cautious about opening email attachments from someone you have only just met
- Keep your computer security software up to date
- Create an anonymous email for your dating profiles
Here are some things to consider when you are talking with someone online or by phone/text message:
- Avoid suspicious profiles- If someone you matched with has no bio information or only one photograph, it could be a fake account.
- Don’t respond to requests for financial help
- Take your time- Don’t give your life story right away
- Do your research
- Report suspicious behavior
The Federal Trade Commission said to be aware of romance scammers. They are scammers who strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money, the FTC said.
Here are some of the lies these scammers could tell you:
- They are working on an oil rig
- They are in the military
- They are a doctor with an international organization
Here are some of the reasons the FTC says scammers are asking for money:
- To pay for a plane ticket or travel expense
- To pay for a surgery or other medical expenses
- To pay for customs fees to retrieve something
- To pay off gambling debts
- To pay for a visa or other official travel documents
If you think you are being scammed, you can report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You should also end communication immediately with that person.
Meeting in person
When it is time to meet someone in person, there are several steps you can take to keep yourself safe. Tinder Safety said you should consider the following:
- Wait until you feel comfortable and do not feel pressured to meet someone until you are ready
- Do you research on someone before meeting for the first time
- Tell your close friends where you are going, including giving them access to your location by using an app like Find My Friends
- Meet in a public place- Don’t go back to an apartment or home of someone you just met
- Provide your own transportation
- Know your limits and be aware of the effects alcohol can impair your judgement or alertness
- Don’t leave drinks unattended
- Don’t give out private information, like your address or specific place of work
- If you feel uncomfortable, leave and end the date
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to online dating or dating apps is that you should always trust your instincts. If something does not feel right, it likely isn’t.