As online dating becomes more and more popular, the likelihood of unfortunate dating incidents understandably increases but there’s no reason to miss out on the chance to connect with someone special. If you educate yourself about the risks, you'll be much less likely to fall for any potential tricksters out there.
Choose a reputable UK dating site
It’s natural to be cautious when asked to hand over personal information and credit card details – and you should be. To ensure your online dating site is reputable, do some research before you sign up. The Online Dating Association (ODA) – of which Saga Dating is a member – is a great place to start.
Set up by members of the British online dating industry in 2013, the ODA has established a set of industry standards around the protection of people and data using online dating sites and offer their own online dating tips to improve your safety.
Keep your profile secure
When creating your online dating profile, choose a username that doesn’t make it immediately obvious who you are.
Be careful when accessing your online dating profile from a public or shared computer and always keep your security software up to date.
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Be careful with your details
Avoid writing anything in your profile that could identify you - even if someone has romance on their mind instead of criminal activities, you might not want a potential suitor being able to locate you without your express say so. So avoid mentioning your town, workplace, surname and even the names of your children or other family members. You'd be surprised how much information someone can dig up on you just using Facebook.
Stay in control of when and how you share information, and don’t give out your full name, address or phone number until you feel very comfortable doing so. Avoid doing or saying anything you wouldn’t want made public over webcam, as there are some fraudsters who have used webcam recordings to extort money.
Never, ever disclose financial details to anyone over email – even people claiming to be the website’s organisers. Remember, any request for money is an immediate red flag. If you feel suspicious that someone is asking too much of you too fast, stop communicating with them immediately and contact the dating website to let them know.
First date advice
Whenever you’re meeting a match for a date, tell a friend or family member where you’re going, when you’re leaving and when you expect to be back, as well as the name and potentially a photograph of the person you’re meeting. Arrange your first few dates in public places and plan the return trip before you leave – don’t rely on the other person to get home.
If ordering alcoholic drinks, suggest sitting at the bar together or have a staff member bring them to your table. This will help protect you against drink spiking – it’s not only a problem for 20-somethings!
The golden rule of dating safety is to trust your instincts: if something makes you uncomfortable or feels wrong, it probably is. For more online dating tips, check out our list of dating fails to avoid.