The pandemic left us all in dire need of human contact and a lot of people shifted to online dating to keep their romantic life afloat. In this pursuit of a romantic connection, many turn a blind eye to the rampant online dating risks, playing fast and loose with their own safety.
According to a recent Pew Research study, 40 million Americans use online dating services or dating apps every month. Given the large number of active users on these dating platforms, it’s only wise to keep safety considerations in mind while meeting someone new online or offline.
Dangers Of Online Dating
The latest Netflix docudrama, The Tinder Swindler, drives home the point about risks associated with online dating to the T. These real-life shenanigans of a man out of dupe unsuspecting women looking for love sends out a clear message: swiping mindlessly is not in your best interest.
Since dating apps don’t do criminal history checks on their users, each user must decide if they are comfortable with meeting up with someone. Remember that if you are assaulted or abused while using an online dating service or app, it is not your fault. Let’s look at some of the more obvious dangers of online dating that you need to be wary of when connecting with someone online:
People can assume new identities online, conceal their true identities, and appear to be someone else entirely. This is something that everyone sees all the time, from gamers using Gamertags to cover their tracks to criminals. Unfortunately, the latter is abundant on online dating sites. Many catfish – people who create false identities in order to defraud men and women – can be found on dating apps.
A common outcome of these phishing schemes is the theft of the victim’s personal and financial information by the scammer.
In exchange for sex or a relationship, or just out of desperation, the victim gives out his or her personal information. No matter how hard a fraudster tries to acquire information, one thing is certain: they will not be around for very long. Not letting your guard down is the best way to save yourself from catfishing.
2. Dangerous meetings
Some thieves prefer a direct approach, and these tactics are by far one of the most common dangers of using online dating sites. Certain crooks, upon discovering their victims, will spend days, weeks, or even months winning their trust. Once done, they’ll propose a meetup. However, these meets aren’t for romantic reasons.
Some criminals will lure people into private meetups to loot them, extort them, or worse. One thing is for sure; however: these meetups can be fatal if the user isn’t attentive about who they’re meeting up with and where.
Some romance scammers on dating apps use the catfishing tactic, but not all of them. Some of them favor more savage approaches, which typically result in the victim being shamed and threatened with social exclusion.
Sextortion schemes are the name given to this type of scam. Sextortion schemes occur when a con artist convinces their victim(s) to provide them sexually explicit photos or videos. As soon as the extortionist receives a media release from the victim, he or she will demand payment.
Otherwise, they’ll send the victim’s friends and family those images and videos. Over the past decade, these scams have gotten increasingly widespread and hazardous, and they can devastate a victim’s social life (and possibly career).
5 Tips For Staying Away From The Dangers Of Online Dating
It’s 2022, and online dating is pretty much the new normal for finding romantic connections. While there are many success stories out there today, a sizable number of users still find themselves falling prey to the devious plans of scammers lurking in the virtual space.
When it comes to safeguarding your privacy, money and even your life, it’s best to err on the side of caution. To help you do that, here are 5 tips on warding off the danger of online dating:
1. No oversharing
One of the biggest online dating risks is oversharing personal information with potential partners online. Information is the lifeblood of online dating fraudsters. Having more information about you makes it easier for them to extort or phish you.
How can you avoid this pitfall?
By simply not revealing too much about yourself. It’s critical to get to know a potential date, especially when doing so via an online dating service. When asked about where you attend school, what you do for a living, or where you reside, don’t say anything right away. Before speaking with someone, make sure you can rely on them.
Related Reading: Dating apps: Great to find real fake people?
2. Use a VPN
Always use VPN server locations to protect your data. Even if you don’t disclose too much information, some tech-savvy thieves may still be looking for a few minutes of your time so that they can acquire information on their own.
What gives them the ability to pull this off? With your Internet Protocol (IP) address! Your IP address can be used to gather a wealth of information about you, ranging from your physical location to your online habits. When it comes to internet dating, you must keep your identity a secret. A robust VPN platform like VeePN can help you do just that.
3. Confirm identity
The most crucial piece of advice on this list is to verify the identity of the person you’re speaking with. There are many ways to validate a person’s identification, such as meeting them in a public place or chatting with them over Skype and Zoom.
A catfish or an extortionist will avoid these face-to-face meetings, be it in real life or virtually. So if a person you’ve been talking to keeps coming up with excuses to cancel or postpone virtual dates or in-person meetings, recognize it for the red flags it is and distance yourself.
4. Meet in public areas
Don’t ever meet someone in private places, no matter how many times you’ve checked their identity and intentions, and how sweet he/she is during your online interactions. Being a smooth talker or having the right conversation starters for online dating up their sleeve is no testament to someone’s real personality.
When meeting someone for the first time, you never know what can happen, so it’s best to do it in a place where you can be protected by others. The first few times you meet someone, it’s imperative that you do it in a public place like a restaurant, café or a park. It’s also important that you use a VPN in all the public areas that you are in.
Related Reading: 11 Virtual Dating Mistakes Everyone Makes But YOU Can Avoid!
5. Never use your real number
When meeting new individuals on dating apps, the worst thing you can do is give out your phone number immediately away. That means that even after the two of you find out that you don’t like each other after exchanging numbers, they still have your phone number.
They can then spam your account, stalk your every move, and do other such things. Use a phony phone number, such as a Google Voice number, until you’ve built trust with them. This allows you to connect with them directly while keeping your identity anonymous.
Here you go, here are some of the most imminent dangers of online dating and what can be done to mitigate them. As long as you stick to these simple tips, you can go out there and connect with people without any inhibitions or fears holding you back.