When it comes to online dating we can’t help saying “safety comes first”. No matter what you are trying to
find in online dating, you always need to have your safety in mind.
The good news is, serious problems are very uncommon, but still that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of the risks involved in online dating and shouldn’t be prepared to avoid them.
Now, the bad news. Unfortunately, unlike personal safety risks, scams are much more common in online dating, particularly for those looking for casual dating. (If you’re looking for online casual dating, read our casual dating guide).
Here we cover both safety advice and best tips to spot and avoid scams.
Let’s start with safety.
Safe Online Dating
We believe everybody deserves to make the most out of the online dating experience, therefore we consider safety very important. There’s nothing worst then having a terrifying incident from online dating, it’s something that could haunt you for quite some time. When and if this happens, people normally lose confidence to try it again.
You should make sure you avoid taking risks that can put yourself in jeopardy.
For dating websites you can trust, view our best dating sites list.
- Don’t add private contacts or info to your public profile, you’ll never know who will come across it
- Don’t post photos showing home or work address. A stalker can be anywhere
- Only arrange to meet with someone you already exchanged messages
- When going for the first date, make sure you choose a public place to meet
- Before going on a date, let at least one friend or family member know about when and where you will be going
- At the first date avoid taking a ride. You still don’t know that person
- Long distance relationships might entail some risk. If you decide to try it, plan your trip ahead and book a place to stay
As we mentioned before, scams are more common that physical security issues. The main reason behind the scams is, as in so many other areas, individuals and shady companies trying to make money in obscure ways (sometimes illegal).
The world of online dating is huge and involves millions of users, that’s why there’s always someone trying to take advantage of it.
The best start is to choose the right website to join. You can find legit websites in our reviews or take our 2 min quiz to find out what’s the best for you. Our featured online dating sites aren’t 100% scam free, simply because you can’t guarantee that, when scams can come from registered users, just like you. But if there’s a website with a high level of scams we’ll expose it and let you know.
Be aware that casual dating websites tend to be less transparent and have more ‘fake’ profiles than traditional websites. By ‘fake’ we mean profiles that are created for a specific purpose, but not for true online dating.
Here we won’t mention any website that might be considered a scam, simply because there are too many out here, especially when it comes to casual dating. Instead, we give you a clear understanding of how scams work and how to spot them. With these tools you will be well prepared to deal with both user and website scams.
When we talk about online dating scams, we are actually talking about 2 main types of scam, website and users.
In this case, the website itself works as a bait to scam you. The techniques used are various, but among the most common are:
- Hidden costs/charges;
- Not delivering the full promised service or website overflowing with ads and paid services;
- Use of fake profiles, to tease you to pay for interaction (strategy normally used on casual dating sites).
A good (and simple) way to avoid a website scam is to be patient. By being patient, we mean, don’t subscribe to a paid service until you find out how the website works. So often scams are successful because they know all humans can be impulsive sometimes.
Don’t be impulsive. If you like a particular website, make sure they have a free subscription for you to test their service. Normally you won’t be able to communicate with other member’s, but you’ll be able to understand how they operate. By just searching for profiles, you can see if they look genuine.
Once you get a free subscription, the website owners will have your email. If in the following days you receive dozens of emails with different offers, you are on the wrong track with that website. One of the most used tactics from shady websites is email spam.
Use the website and after a few days you will be able to better evaluate if that’s the service for you.
When you decide to pay, pay close attention to any hidden charges or if the service charges automatically every month. This is something users normally don’t get because website owners don’t want them to. Sometimes they’ll make you believe you’ll be joining for a certain period (e.g., a month), but actually they will automatically charge you after that month for another. To make things worse, when you try to cancel the subscription, you’ll need to do it a month in advance, meaning you’ll still pay for another month even when cancelled.
A scam doesn’t have to be a total rip off to be considered so. We believe that a company who is serious about online dating should stick to his promise and offer good quality service without trying to hoodwink users.
In every website there’s a chance to find some profiles created for the wrong reasons. This type of scam involves creating a nice profile, but fake.
Fake means that profile is created with scam in mind and not genuine interest in finding a date.
User scams come in many ways. These are some of the most common:
- Ask for money to travel to you
- Ask you to join a specific website to see more of them
- Ask you to pay for expensive things in return of meeting or sex
- Ask for your email or private contacts
We’ve seen some profiles mentioning straight away that they are a looking for “sugar daddy’s” or “sugar mama”. We feel that’s not why you should join online dating, but still, if they are clear and transparent about their intentions, at least users will know what they are after.
Careful when a user you’re falling for ask you for money. There’s no sensible reason to ask for money when you’re trying to find love, so please don’t ever fall to this trap. Normally scammers will give a good reason, like being abroad and needing money for the flight. Try to avoid users who don’t live abroad or far away. Even if it’s not a scam, chances of that relationship working are few.
On some websites users will be tempted by private message to join paid services from other companies, such as ‘sex live chat’. This is something almost always targeted to men and in casual dating websites. Be aware and keep in mind you won’t find love on those websites, just paid virtual sex services.
Don’t give away your personal contacts easily. Some profiles are created just to capture user’s data and sell to other companies. There’s plenty of time to give away contacts and that’s the last step before meeting. Normally a scammer will straight away give an excuse to talk outside the website to try to get your contacts. Something like “would love to chat but due to subscription ending won’t be able to stay there, please give me your email” can be one of techniques used by scammers. The good news is, they normally use one single message to try their luck and they won’t go a good length to achieve their goal. If you reply to such message and try to build a simple dialogue and that doesn’t happen, it’s probably a scammer.
Top Tips To Avoid Scams
- Don’t give away your email or contact details easily. Some profiles are created with the wrong intentions
- Never send money to anyone. Online dating is about true love and sharing, not paying for anyone’s attention
- Careful with women/men approaching you to use another services instead of the one you are at. They will probably make you join a paid service you don’t want/need
- Never give bank details to anyone
- When you’re offered too much too soon, always be suspicious and ask questions
- Be patient. Scams often take advantage of human greed and impulsive reactions
Remember rushing things might put you into trouble. Take logic steps and thoughtful decisions. Online dating is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and ultimately find ‘the right one’, but if you forget some basic elements you can ruin it all.
The first step to keep everything safe is to join a good online dating site. The best providers in the UK can guarantee a good safety level as they do the dirty work for you by getting rid of unwanted users. Check our unbiased reviews to help you choosing a provider. Or you can take our 2min quiz to find out the best websites for you.