The online dating world has millions of loving and honest people who are seriously looking for their next meaningful relationship. Unfortunately, the huge rise in popularity of online dating sites also brings an increased number of unethical people and scammers. For years, we encouraged people to do whatever they could to stay anonymous at the beginning of any online relationship by using the following tips: Safe Dating Tip 1 - Never give out your home address or phone number. Safe Dating Tip 2 - Use a separate internet address for all of your dating contacts. Safe Dating Tip 3 - Use your cell phone and/or block your number when contacting someone by phone.
These will always be good advice. However, as a person who tracks down people for a living, I feel there are some facts you need to know in order to remain safe. Fact #1 - If someone knows your first and last name, city and state, it is likely that there will only be 5-10 possible addresses that match that information.
If they know your age, that list can drop to 3 or less. Fact #2 - If you have an unusual first name or an unusual spelling, someone could get an exact match on your address without knowing your last name. Fact #3 - The first names of your family and friends, or simple talk about your past residences, can help pinpoint your current address. For example, there may be 100 Mary Browns, but only one who lived with a James and Karen in Ohio. Fact #4 - Your cell or unlisted phone number by itself could lead to an exact match on your address. No name or other information required.
This most often happens in cases where you used your cell phone as the contact number for a utility bill or when applying for credit. Fact #5 - If people get your current address, they can also quickly retrieve information on the value of any property you own and a list of your relatives and other associates. In some states, they can also get make, model, and plate number of the car you drive. So what are we saying? Don't give your last name and don't talk about your past or your family and friends? Absolutely not! When you first meet a person online we are most concerned about two things. First, a new online acquaintance could make an unannounced visit. Some people may deem a lover's pursuit like that to be very romantic.
We believe such visits are unacceptable in all cases and extremely dangerous after the pursuer has been rejected. Second, the unethical person could use the information to target you and then play on your emotions to set you up for a scam. Such scams don't have to be elaborate. It could just be that the person wants a quick relationship with the pretty girl he met online and uses this information to make her feel that they have many things in common. The Solution - three MORE Safe Dating Tips to add to the ones above: Safe Dating Tip 4 - Virtual Phone Number and Voicemail.
You should already have an email just for dating contacts. Now add a phone number and voicemail and, of course, block your number when you call them back. You can normally get the whole package of a virtual phone number, email, and voicemail that is automatically sent as a file to your email box for a few dollars per month.
These and other Safe Dating Resources are at the InnerCircle website and blog links below. Safe Dating Tip 5 - Make a List of What You Want to Share. Do not get caught giving out personal information when you are caught up in an online or phone conversation with someone you have never met. Make notes ahead of time on those things you are willing to talk about as well as those things you want to remain private.
Also, take notes on what your online contacts know about you. You should suspect you are being manipulated if they seem to know much more about you than you know about them. Comments like "You would be surprised what I know about you." should not be taken lightly. Safe Dating Tip 6 - Never, Ever, Ever Give Money.
If someone asks for money in any form, stop communications and contact your online dating site. That means no plane ticket to see a dying relative, no rent so they won't get evicted and be homeless tomorrow, and no train ticket to come back early to see you this weekend. We hope this helps you in your safe quest for meaningful relationships.
Chris Skinner is President and Lead Investigator for InnerCircle Research Corporation and InnerCircle Blog. The company provides resources and investigations for safer online dating, background checks, child support enforcement and to locate people.