Keep Personal Information Private
When you meet someone online, whether you are looking for a friend or lover, you are not getting the whole picture. At least right away. What you get with an online meeting is sometimes a picture and what they choose to tell you.
Human nature wants to believe the best about everyone, so our trust is often given too freely and easily, setting up us for disappointment and possibly more. Until you know someone really well, meet them in person and trust them with your life, do not give out your personal information. Keep your address, last name, home phone number and any other details that could give away your exact location. This may seem paranoid, but I know it can happen.
For instance, after knowing a man really well for over three years, a friend of mine found out that everything he had told her up to that point was a lie. She only found out by accident from one of his friends, who didn’t know the untruths she had been told.
If things do get ugly with an online date, you can rest easy that you can’t be tracked down if you withhold your last name and address. The same goes for your cyber activity.
Keep Online Information Secure
You wouldn’t hand out your social security number to anyone, so don’t hand out important online information either. All user ID’s and passwords should be kept confidential. If you are one of those people who have the same password for every website, make sure it is a unique one.
Most sites use your username as your display name, so if you communicate on IM with anyone with it, they already have half the info they need! Finding a password, like your pet’s name, isn’t real hard if you’ve been talking with someone for awhile. And if you have a profile created, they might find your pet’s name, school mascot or street name without you even telling them!
Personally, I used one of my pet’s names for most websites I visited. Some were accounts with financial information, others were utilities and some were just plain fun. The problem is, if someone gets a hold of it, they can log in wherever you go. I learned my lesson when my cyber romance turned sour, and my ex logged in to my email account with username and pet name password. Then he had the key to most of the other sites I used, which leads me to the next tip.
Don’t keep a file in your email account with your entire user ID’s and passwords in it. It’s like handing over your credit cards to a robber before they even ask. You may as well put an ad up asking for someone to steal your identity.
If you are posting profiles on dating sites, you will have to post a picture to get the best response. And if you are a parent, your first inclination is to show off your children. Fight the urge, at least for a little while. And when you do post them, do not list their names. They could be very easy to track down at school if your city is listed elsewhere.
Even after you get to know someone, don’t share pictures you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Sharing things like that usually will come back around and haunt you at some point. If they fall in to the wrong hands, it could be really nasty.
Trust Your Instincts
If something makes you curious about another person, ask away. Don’t feel bad or guilty about calling someone on something that may sound fishy or confusing. If they do make you feel guilty, then it should raise the red flag even higher. Cut your ties now and trust your gut instinct that it is a potentially bad situation.
Keep life schedules private until you can trust the person. Having a stalker is not fun, whether it be online or in person. Your jogging route, the kids’ sports schedules or even your manicure appointment can lead someone straight to you if they know about it. Don’t reveal anything until you are absolutely certain the person is worthy of trust.
Trust your instincts. If a situation gives you the creeps, walk away. It’s better to be overly cautious than sorry later. Online dating can be fun and rewarding, as long as you are careful in how you go about it. Have fun!
Read more dating safety tips and advice.