8 Safety Tips for Dating Apps
Let’s face it, dating apps are here to stay. They provide a great way to meet like-minded people who are also interested in dating.
But like every coin that has two sides, there are risks involved with using dating apps since bad people who are looking to take advantage of good people can live there.
The folks at the UK site Crimes + Investigation offer these eight tips for staying safe while dating online:
1. Don’t use your real name and/or job title
Dating apps often prompt you to include your first name and job title. Be aware that this seemingly meagre information can allow a stranger to Google their way to your full name and other personal details. Even if you have a fairly common first name, that plus an exact job title may be enough to lead someone straight to your LinkedIn page, Instagram account and so on.
You may prefer to use an online alias, and/or keep your job description vague. For example, instead of writing ‘online editor at mental health charity’, just write ‘editor’ or ‘charity executive’. Then, test it out by searching the information you’ve provided to see if it reveals any salient info.
2. Don’t use photos that are already online
To maximise your security on dating apps, consider using photos that aren’t already floating about online. People may be able to use reverse image search tools to track down the pictures and find out your personal details that way.
On that note, while you may be tempted to link your Instagram account to your dating profile so that people can check out your latest holiday photos, bear in mind that some apps will make your hashtags visible to anyone who looks at these images. This can allow strangers to potentially track down your page on Instagram by searching those hashtags.
3. Be alert for dating profile red flags
Dating apps are brimming with profiles, so you can afford to be very choosy about who you make time for. Do the person’s pictures look strangely perfect, glossy, magazine-like, or generally too good to be true? Is the profile text stilted and minimal, or even totally absent?
These are all red flags for a possible catfisher or scam artist. Do not hesitate to swipe left on such profiles as the chances are you won’t be missing out on your eternal soulmate.
4. Block and report suspicious users
If someone you’ve matched with is acting creepy or suspicious, you should unmatch and perhaps even report them. Apps allow you to do the latter anonymously with just a tap and this can help make the app a safer place for everyone.
There are a few things that should set off alarm bells. One is if they ask you for money or online gift cards for any reason whatsoever. No matter the story they might spin about personal hardships, any request for money means you’re dealing with a potential Tinder Swindler-type character.
Other reasons to unmatch and perhaps report are if they pressure you to move off the app and onto WhatsApp or social media before you’re comfortable, if they’re too forward too quickly, or if they take a hostile tone.
5. Consider video calls
Virtual dates through video calls aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there’s no denying they can be a bit awkward. But they do have some major benefits. For one thing, talking to someone on your phone or laptop is a far cheaper and more convenient way to test the romantic chemistry than travelling out to a venue across town.
More importantly, they are also ultra-safe. If someone rubs you up the wrong way, it’s a simple matter of ending the call and blocking them forever, rather than having to physically extract yourself from the unsettling encounter.
6. Meet in a public place
If you are ready to meet someone in person, choose a public venue for your first date rather than going to their place or inviting them to yours. Remember, no matter how enjoyable or personal your online chat has been so far, this is still a stranger, so it’s good to exercise a bit of caution and have your first date in a café, pub, bar, or anywhere else with plenty of people around.
7. Keep a friend updated
It’s always a good idea to let a friend know about your first date plans. Send them a screenshot of the person’s dating profile and tell them which venue you’re heading to. You may also want to tell them to expect a text from you when you get home after the date. And, whether it’s the first date or the fifth, you should always tell a friend the address if you decide to go back to someone’s house for the first time.
8. Trust your gut
This is perhaps the ultimate rule of thumb when it comes to dating safely: trust your instincts. If something about someone feels off, even if you can’t quite articulate the exact reason to yourself, that’s all the reason you should require to end the interaction, whether online or in person. Don’t worry about seeming rude – you don’t owe a stranger from the internet anything and your safety should always come first.
For us, we might have reordered these:
Trust your gut.
Don't use your real name and/or your job title.
Be alert for profile red flags.
Don't use photos already used online.
Keep a friend updated.
Consider video calls.
Meet in a public place.
Block and report suspicious users.
First and foremost, trust your instincts!