How to keep yourself safe before meeting an online date

Over 40 million Americans use dating apps or online dating services to connect with potential partners. Before meeting someone, there are safety precautions to keep in mind. It’s important to remember that dating apps currently don’t perform a background check on registered users, so it’s up to you to ensure you’re comfortable meeting in person. To help keep you safe when interacting online, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Keeping Safe when Connecting Online

Keep Your Photos Separate 

When posting anything online, users can do a reverse image search through applications such as TinEye. These programs will run your photographs through search engine results, showing all other locations it’s been shared. It’s essential to safeguard your social media accounts (especially if you post a lot of local content) until you’ve established trust. As such, it’s always a wise idea to share photos on your dating profiles that haven’t been shared anywhere else online.

Never Share Personal Information

Although you’re likely to disclose personal information eventually, it’s never a good idea when first connecting with people online. Make sure to keep identifying information like your complete name, social security number, address, or phone number secure, until you know who you’re talking to.

Avoid Requests for Financial Help

Building online relationships are common, especially as technology has a more substantial influence on our daily life. As you continue to chat with people online, never send anyone money online (no matter how convincing or compelling it seems). Many individuals pray on the emotional attachment of others in hopes of financial gain.

Report Suspicious Activity

When matching with users on dating apps, avoid profiles that seem suspicious. Fake accounts are less likely to contain photos, completed bios, filled-out profiles, or verification. If you still feel like connecting with the profile, proceed with caution. Never agree to meet someone without proper verification, and avoid disclosing personal details until you can verify the individual on the other end.

Staying Safe If Meeting in Person

Always Have a Video Chat

Before agreeing to meet with anyone online, it’s always a good idea to have a video chat first. A video chat will confirm that the person you’re meeting is who they claim to be while still connecting and communicating. If your connection is hesitant or refuses to participate in a video call, it may be a red flag that they’re not who they claim.

Confirm Who You’re Meeting

Before agreeing to meet someone in person, it’s always a good idea to perform a background check. Spend a few minutes reviewing the personal information of your partner, along with the criminal history. If your match has a criminal record, it may be wise to skip the meeting.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

While we’d like to trust that everyone has positive intentions online, remaining safe needs to be your top priority. Before meeting anyone you meet online, always send a snapshot of your match’s profile, along with any identifying information they’ve given you. This might include the address of where you’re meeting, a vehicle description, the time you expect to return, and any contact information you have on hand. If the date moves to a new location, send a quick text message to your contact to send the new address.

Only Stick with What You’re Comfortable With

There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks on your date, but you need to know your limits and stick to them. Never feel pressured into drinking or doing drugs just because your date is. Likewise, never feel pressured into doing anything you’re not comfortable with. This includes physical intimacy or “hooking up” with someone because they paid for your date. Make sure you set boundaries and make them known ahead of time.

Get Yourself to the Date

It’s never a wise idea to give up total control of a date, including transportation. Not only does having your date drive you on the date give up the ability to leave, but you’ll also be disclosing your address during the first meet. Always make sure you download a few rideshare apps on your phone so you have a backup plan in place. If one app isn’t working when you’re trying to leave, use the backup app. If all else fails, contact the waitstaff or bartender for a ride home.