Online dating has become one of the more popular pastimes for those looking to make a connection. The continued rise in dating apps and social networking sites is now the preferred way for millions of people to meet someone they would never have before. It's estimated that of these, 77% of people will make plans to meet in person and go on a date with someone they've met online. It's easy to get caught up in the flurry of online dating, but it's important not to ignore your safety while doing so. This Valentine's Day, safeguard your dating profile and take extra care to protect yourself if you go on a date.
Creating a Dating Profile
When looking to create a dating profile, only use secure sites and apps, avoid those that don't have a lock next to the URL, lack report or block features, and share your location. If you stop using these sites or apps, make sure to delete your personal information and profile.
Never include identifying details on your profile, including your phone number, email address, place of work, or home address. For further protection, use a different image than one on your other social media accounts; someone could do a reverse image search to find them. It's recommended that you keep these accounts on private mode as well.
Before making anything public, review your settings and privacy features. Pay particular attention to what is being shared with others, including your location.
Connecting with Someone
Make sure you're not interacting with a fake profile by searching their name and photos online. Consider setting up a video chat to confirm their identity and see if you want to meet them in person. Be wary of anyone who pressures you to share your personal information or suggest you talk outside of the dating app or site. Don't hesitate to block or report someone that isn't who they say they are or acts inappropriately towards you.
Planning a Date
While it may be romantic to plan a dinner at home, opt to make plans in a public place for your first meeting. A coffee shop, restaurant, or bar with lots of people around might be a better location than going for a hike or visiting a public park. Set up your transportation to and from the date. It may not be safe to let a stranger know where you live. Always tell a friend or family member of your plans, what time you expect to be home and where they can reach you. If your date moves to a different location, make sure to let them know. You can also consider sharing your location on your phone or with an app.
Trusts your instincts if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe while on a date, don't feel bad about leaving a date or asking for help if you need to, your safety is more important.
For more personal safety tips, visit MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/PersonalSafety