Meeting new acquaintances on line can be an exciting way to correspond and contact people from all over the world. It’s also just as handy as getting in touch with those who may be just around the corner.
However, as with any venture into new territory, there are some safety issues you should consider. Just realize that meeting someone on line is the same as just bumping into a stranger on the street. You know absolutely nothing about each other, and you wouldn’t just reveal everything about yourself to that stranger. Consider some safety tips about online meetings.
1. Be careful with your personal information. Instead of giving a stranger your email address online, it may be best to sign up with an online dating service. That way you can keep everything totally confidential until you decide whether to pursue the friendship.
2. Online dating services claim they screen all subscribers and then match you with appropriately safe contacts. However, once you’re matched and you give your email address and other personal information, there’s no guarantee that the match-up is completely safe.
If you want to keep your confidentiality, it may be wiser to create a new email address for online contacts. You may not choose to reveal the one you’ve been using for business, banking, correspondence and other everyday transactions.
3. Some online services are free, while others charge a fee for matching you up with other subscribers. However, whatever contacts you make online, be aware of scams. One of the most bothersome is when your new acquaintence asks for money, the number of your credit card or other financial information.
The request may come with a sad story of poverty or illness, and often with promises that it will all be paid back after you meet. If you’re approached in any suspicious way, discontinue your correspondence immediately. If you’re sure an online dating service is legitimate, instead of giving the number of your credit card, it may be wiser to pay by check.
4. Once you’re determined to get together with the person you’ve met online, continue to be aware of your personal safety. Arrange to meet in mutually agreed-upon place, a hotel lobby, cafe or restaurant.
When you’re finally face-to-face, don’t be surprised if the person doesn’t look anything like the photo you received online. It may be OK if the face is a bit less attractive or a bit older, but if the difference is striking, it may be wise to not pursue the meeting any further. To be polite, you may stay for coffee or a drink, then make your exit.
5. If you believe the meeting is successful, you may decide to make a date for dinner, theater or concert. For that first date, do not give out any personal information. Additionally, it may be safer if you agree to meet at the location, rather than at your home. Then, after another date or two, if the relationship appears to be based on total truth and mutual trust, go for it. And good luck to you!
Always be aware of your personal safety when you are in contact with new people online. Unfortunately, among all the good people you could meet, there are those you should avoid at all costs.