Top Tips for Online Dating Safety

Joan Jackson
By Joan Jackson June 15, 2010 08:00

Technology and online dating sites have opened up a great means for mature singles in the Mother Lode to connect with someone special, and more men and women are turning to the Internet to meet new people.

However, Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Eric Hovatter advises senior singles to be extra careful when reaching out this way.

“I know there are wonderful stories,” Hovatter says, “but I see the darker side. There needs to be a healthy dose of caution.”

While plenty of nice people are looking for companionship, online predators are also on the prowl. They tend to target older individuals who are alone or with no family living nearby, and quickly learn as much as they can about a person’s assets.

Hovatter advises people not to share too much information, and warns against supposed suitors who profess their love too quickly. “Beware of big promises and fast promises,” he says. “If your instincts raise a red flag, notice and walk away.”

Hovatter urges anyone who has been victimized to contact law enforcement. There’s an embarrassment factor, he acknowledges, but it’s important to let the police know, which may prevent others from being victimized.

How do you keep yourself safe, while enjoying the advantages of online dating? A survey of the top online safety and dating sites turns up these key tips:

Find a trustworthy online dating service. Check with friends and do online research. A number of Internet sites offer reviews and information about dating sites. In general, dating sites that charge a fee have more safety features.

Safeguard your personal information, both online and in person. Use a separate e-mail account for online dating. Don’t share your personal e-mail, phone number or address until you are absolutely certain of the other person. Never share Social Security or financial information.

Don’t be rushed into meeting your cyber friend in person. Carefully move from online correspondence to telephone conversations before meeting. Learn as much about them as you can before your first face-to-face. A recent Nielsen NetRatings survey indicates that up to 11 percent of people on Web dating sites are actually married.

Always meet in a public place and always drive your own vehicle. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into being picked up at home or going to the other person’s home.

Always carry your cell phone.

Protect your purse or wallet (they contain information as well as money) and drinks. If you need to go to the restroom, order a fresh beverage when you return. Stay sober.

Tell a friend where you’re going and when you expect to return. Let your date know that your meeting is not a secret.

Set up a next date if you are ready, but continue to follow these guidelines until you’re completely comfortable. If the person is sincerely interested in you, they’ll want you to feel safe.

© 2010 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Joan Jackson
By Joan Jackson June 15, 2010 08:00
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