Thousands of people use thisDating everyday. Many of them also forge strong, successful, long term relationships. The connected world has made it easier than ever before to meet new people opening an entirely new set of opportunities. However, these opportunities, also bring along with it certain risks – risks, that you should be aware of and be prepared for in order to have a safe, fulfilling relationship. We take the liberty to paraphrase a line from a popular movie, to drive a point: With great opportunities, comes great responsibilities.
Remember, even though we at thisDating take several steps to protect our members, we don’t provide or perform background checks on our members and, ultimately, your online and offline safety is your responsibility and should be your top priority. Be aware that a single lapse of judgement could have serious consequences to your well being. Use these tips and common sense practices and exercise sound judgement whenever you meet and interact with people, and protect yourself from becoming an unsuspecting victim.
Understanding online dating scams
Not everyone you’ll meet online is looking for love. Scammers often create fake profiles with stolen photos of other people. Scammers use these fake profiles to meet potential victims and build relationships with the intent of eventually scamming them. Even though thisDating takes several steps to protect our members, its important to understand that there is no such thing as absolute security, and that its a cat and mouse game and scammers are ever evolving to create even more elaborate and sophisticated schemes to bypass all security measures.
The most effective tool to protect yourself from becoming a victim of scams is awareness, common sense and exercising sound judgement at all times.
Most online dating scams are created to part you with your money. Scammers typically play with your emotions to get what they want. Some scammers go so far as to making wedding plans before disappearing with your money.
Unlike real life, the virtual life allow you to “edit” and craft a profile that’s perfect to lure their victims. Scammers often use photos of doctors, high profile business men or military personnel to give their victims a false sense of security. Scammers often target heart-broken or recently divorced men and women and use psychological tricks to lure them as they are easy targets and more vulnerable and likely to fall victims to their scams.
Even though the details of each individual scam may vary, the overall pattern goes something like this:
- Create an emotional bond with the victim and give them a sense of trust and attachment
- The scammer then describes himself or herself in an emergency or dire situation (medical/family emergency, stranded in a foreign country, loss in business or business deal gone sour, etc)
- Request for money to help them out from this situation
- Repeat with another victim
Know that while a vast majority of the scams are intended to separate you with your money, there are other risk factors that you should be aware of. Like with anything you do on the Internet, apart from financial fraud, there is also a risk of identity theft, trolling/internet stalking, catfishing and general safety issues when meeting someone you don’t know.
Now that you understand the basics of online dating scams, lets look at some of the common ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
The first step to protecting yourself from becoming a victim is to protect your identity and personal information. Be anonymous – do not include any personally identifiable information in your profile, such as email, phone numbers, address, or links to your social network profile that can be used to track you down. You’ll be surprised how much information even a seemingly harmless piece of data such as an email address can reveal about you on the web. Don’t believe us? Just search for you email address on Facebook and it’ll bring your profile right up!
If you do feel compelled to share any personal information with any member, do so only when you absolutely trust the other person and are ready to take your relationship to the next level.
If you are being unduly pressured to reveal your personal information by another person, consider it as a red flag.
Under no circumstances should you reveal any information related to your financial identity such as bank details, credit or debit card, etc at any point.
Stay on the platform
Communicate only via thisDating chat features. Act with extreme caution and evaluate your relationship before contacting someone outside of thisDating such as email, phone, text messages, your social media account or other messaging apps. Every time you take a conversation off thisDating, you are potentially exposing yourself to risk. If you do want to share your email address, make sure its one you have created specifically for the purpose, and that its not linked to any other social media accounts.
Evaluate your relationship
Always trust your instinct. Sometimes when you’re excited about someone, its easy to confuse your instincts with strong feelings. Its imperative you take your time to get to know someone before sharing your full identity or personal information. Be clear what kind of person you’re looking for and what kind of relationship you seek. Take your time while pursuing any relationship and get to know someone. Don’t be rushed. Don’t allow yourself to be talked into anything – you’re the one in charge.
Do your research
Don’t get a false sense of security just because its online. Its easy to lie on the internet. Ask lots of questions when chatting with your potential mates. Do your own research to learn more about someone and make informed decisions before you decide to meet. Check to see if the person you’re interested in is on other social networking sites like Facebook, do a web search to see if there are other records of the person online, and corroborate information from your chat history and across sites. Use government resources that are publicly available.
thisDating DOES NOT ROUTINELY SCREEN OUR MEMBERS, INQUIRE INTO THE BACKGROUND OF OUR MEMBERS, ATTEMPT TO VERIFY INFORMATION PROVIDED BY OUR MEMBERS, OR CONDUCT CRIMINAL SCREENINGS OF OUR MEMBERS.
Never send money. Ever.
No matter how dire or serious a situation they describe themselves in, you should under no circumstances send any money to anyone you met online. Scammers often create elaborate schemes and far fetched stories or talk you into believing you’re just helping someone in need, even go far as to give you a sense of guilt for not helping someone, but in all probability its just another scam. Don’t send money to anyone you’ve met online. Period. Always keep your bank and account information private.
Report suspicious behavior.
Use sound judgement and report any member whom you suspect of fraudulent behavior. To report any member, go to his or her profile and tap on “Report member” menu. Remember, when you report someone, you are not only protecting yourself, but also helping other unsuspecting members from being scammed.
Meeting in person
Going on a real life date with someone new is an exciting next step in a relationship. However, that’s no reason to let your guard down. Make sure you’ve spent enough time with someone online before agreeing to meet in person. When meeting someone in person for the first time, take precautions and follow these dos and don’ts.
- Keep friends and family informed.
When meeting someone for the first time, make sure you keep your friends and/or family informed of your plans. Keep them informed about whom you’re planning to meet and when you expect to be back. If you make any changes to your plans, keep them posted.
- Meet at a public place
Choose a place that has plenty of people. Prefer a place that you visit frequently or are familiar with. Avoid isolated places or someone home.
- Self transportation
Choose your own transportation to get to and from the date. Don’t let your date pick you up or drop you off even if they volunteer or offer to help.
- Stay sober
Avoid doing anything that could impair your judgement and cause you to make decisions that you would regret. Watch your alcohol intake and keep a close eye on your drinks and other belongings.
- Always carry a mobile handset
Make sure its fully charged before you leave for the date. Keep your friends updated about any change in plans. Arrange for a friend or family member to call you during your date.
- Trust your instincts
If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and end the date. You’re not obliged to see the person again, and you don’t have to feel guilty for leaving early. Don’t allow yourself to be talked into anything – you’re the one in charge.
- Don’t hesitate to seek help
If at any point you feel uncomfortable, attract the attention of someone around you. Tell a waitress, a security guard, a passerby, a stranger in the bathroom – just attract the attention and support of someone around you – and leave.
Don’t feel self-conscious or embarrassed about taking these precautions. Remember, your safety is more important than worrying about causing your date offense. No harm can come from being over-cautious; you’ll both laugh about it later. If your date cares about and respects you they will respect and reciprocate your concerns. You’d rather be safe than sorry.
Remember that people aren’t always what they seem. If you suspect that someone you’re talking to may be a scammer, stop all communication and immediately report them. Watch out for these few examples of common scammer behaviors to report immediately. If you notice these behavior(s) from the person you’re communicating with, it should set off alarm bells immediately.
- Requests for money
It doesn’t matter what the pretext is. It does’nt matter how dire a situation the other person describes himself or herself in. No matter how plausible their story is. No matter what emergency it is. You MUST assume any requests for money as a scam and report him or her immediately, especially if the requests is to send money via Western Union or Money Gram.
- Communicating outside of thisDating
Scammers will almost always want you to communicate with you through other channels such as texting, calling, using another site or app, etc. that are not bound to any security measures. If you’re being pressured to take communication outside of thisDating, consider it a warning sign and report the user.
- Communicating from different accounts
If you notice a person vanishes mysteriously from thisDating, then reappears under a different name, consider it a red flag. Chances are the users account got blocked for fraudulent behavior and they created another account. If you notice this, you should refrain from communicating and report the user immediately.
- Claims to love you in a heartbeat
Scammers don’t have a lot of time to waste. They will want to quickly assess if you could fall victim to their tricks or they should move on to the next potential victim. They often like to talk about “destiny” or “fate” or claim to be recently widowed to gain sympathy. Scammers also like to say they’re from one country but currently in another country by way of work or deployment.
Online dating is an excellent way to meet that someone special with whom to share your life. While the vast majority of people you’ll ever meet online will be honest and caring, it only takes the actions of a few to spoil the party for all. Taking the time to do it well and protecting yourself is a matter of common sense and the best way to ensure that your online dating experience is safe, satisfying, and successful. We hope you take note of the topics discussed here and take well informed decisions in your dating adventure.
Remember, the more honest you are about yourself, and being clear about what it is you’re looking for, the more likely you are to find the type of relationship you seek. As long as you follow some basic safety rules, there is no reason you can’t safely and enjoyably locate whatever type of partner you seek for a lifelong relationship. While seeking you partner, keep an open mind, an open heart, and most of all, have fun and be safe!
Plenty of people have built successful relationships on thisDating, and you can too!