Dating apps have been all the rage in the last few years. Online dating is not new – it’s almost as old as the internet itself. But with the advent of smartphones and there being “an app for everything”, dating apps have become a simple, easy, and even addictive way to look for love – or just a hookup – online.
And now, with the novel coronavirus pandemic forcing people all over the world to go into lockdowns, people at home are finding that dating apps are a great way to connect with others even though they may not be able to see them immediately. It might have even helped people to connect a lot more than they would have before meeting in person, than in the years before COVID-19.
We’re all looking for that perfect match online, and since 32 million Americans are using dating apps as of 2020, it’s becoming more and more important for us all to understand the risks involved. We were taught not to talk to strangers as kids, but look at us now. We’re connecting with people online, and then meeting them in-person. We’re even getting into cars with strangers without using an app – often when we’re too drunk to drive home. So, how do we use dating apps and search for love while protecting our privacy and safety? We’re about to tell you!
Don’t Get Catfished
Catfishing is one of the most prevalent scams in the online dating world. It’s not limited to online dating apps and can happen on any online platform, including social media sites, forums, and by email. Catfishing is online fraud. What happens is that a criminal creates a false identity so that they can exploit their victims – for money, love, and anything else that they believe that can get out of an individual under false pretenses. Other than stealing money from you by appealing to your emotional side after making a connection with you, catfish victims are often left feeling humiliated, rejected, and used. One way to avoid being catfished is to not give away any important, sensitive information to your online date. It may sound like common sense, but this happens way too often. Also, if you’re ever suspicious of the identity of an online match, look them up on Nuwber to find out if they’re really who they say they are.
Your Personal Information is Yours
A common crime that occurs frequently on dating apps is identity fraud. Identity fraud, or identity theft, is when someone uses your identity to commit fraud, making unauthorized transactions or applying for credit cards on your name, for example. Even if everything seems all fine and dandy – whether it’s before or after you meet your online date in person – keep sensitive information, like your Social Security Number, to yourself. Identity fraud can be devastating to your life and livelihood, so be careful. It’s also worth noting that your identity can be used by others in online dating scams, so ensure that your personal information on other digital platforms (like social media profiles) are turned up, to prevent identity fraudsters from lifting your images and biodata to catfish others.
Ask for Advice and Check with Mutual Friends
Whoever you date, check with your close friends or family – people who genuinely care about your wellbeing – their opinion on who you’re planning to move forward with. This can be really helpful, too, if your potential suitor is a mutual friend of one of your friends, since they can guide you truthfully about what they think of the individual. It’s always important to get someone else’s perspective on important decisions as they might have picked up on something from your date’s profile or messages that you didn’t.
Stick to the Platform’s Messaging App
Before you’re really sure of taking the next step and even contemplating meeting IRL (in real life), keep your messages and communication restricted to your dating apps messaging platform. Until you’re really sure of going off-platform, it’s much safer for you to keep chatting here. It prevents scammers from gaining your phone number right from the start, offering you that extra bit of protection.
Don’t Use the Same Photo on Every Profile
Chances are, you’re not just using one dating app in your quest to find The One. And yes, we know you love that selfie where your hair and makeup are on point, but resist the urge to use that thirst trap of a photo on all the social platforms that you’ve signed upon. Doing so makes it a lot easier for someone to find out more about you online. Reverse image searching is easier than you think, so people could look you up with your photo and bring up your other accounts. This gives them access to any personal information about you that appears there, compromising your safety. Top tip: On dating apps, use photos that you haven’t posted on other platforms.
Turn Location Tracking Off
Similar to the above piece of advice, don’t compromise your safety by letting others know more about you than you’d want them to. There are cases where you might want to share your location, but for the most part, it’s safer to keep the dating app’s location tracking off. Better yet, use a dating app that doesn’t share your location. Others don’t need to know where you are unless you want them to know that information.
Choose a Dating App Wisely
Some dating apps are there to simply collect your information and sell them to data brokers who pay large sums of money for it. Other apps are just not secure, making data breaches a more common occurrence. Check out the app’s reviews and find out as much as you can about the platform’s security and ethics before signing up.