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With the challenges of today's dating world, more people are turning to the internet, and using dating websites to develop relationships. Online dating has many advantages, and dating website can be a great tool. We encourage the idea that people can find their true love, or any other relationship, online. However, you should keep yourself safe while online dating, and remember that the people you communicate with are total strangers.
Thus, we have prepared these “Community Guidelines” which include some tips and recommendations we believe should be followed order make your online dating experience safer.
Do Not Share Your Full Identifying Information
When using an online dating website, avoid sharing your full name, home and email addresses, phone numbers, or any other sensitive information with other users, until you reach a close level of trust with them.
Profile Photos - Trust Your Instincts
Look at the profile picture of people you communicate with and try to search if it is authentic and realistic. Professional photos should be a red flag! Look for amateur photos - and check for more than one. Respect and trust your instincts. If you have doubts about anyone you interact with through the online dating website that doesn’t resemble his/her pictures, do not provide your identifying information until you have enough information about your prospective date.
We recommend that you avoid meeting anyone who you do not trust, based on the relationship you established with him/her via online dating websites. When you do go on a date, meet somewhere public. In addition, let a friend or a family member know that you are going to meet someone and where you are going to meet him/her, and give them his contact details like name and phone number.
Arrive and Leave Alone
You should drive or walk alone to the date, and walk/drive yourself home alone. As recommended above, the person you are meeting for the first time should not know where you live until you reach a close level of trust with them.
It is known that alcohol may impact your judgement. Since you are meeting a stranger, you need to stay in full control until you fully trust that person.
Scammers and Fake Profiles
Online dating websites might be used for scammers who will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing apparent personal information, and sometimes even sending you gifts. We suggest that you avoid sharing your financial information with people you do not personally know. It may take several months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime, and they might even pretend to book flights to visit you - but they never actually arrive. Scammers who succeed often try to convince people to directly or indirectly wire them money in various ways, so avoid wiring money to anyone you are not personally familiar with, nor to anyone who claims to be in any kind of trouble and insists on getting your financial help. Google search some of the phrases in emails they have sent you. You may find these have been used over and over again by scammers. Beware of accepting gifts that could be used to conceal drugs. Some scam victims have been caught carrying drugs through customs in luggage they were given as a present. Do not agree to transfer money or send valuable items for someone else: money laundering and drug trafficking are criminal offences. In addition, you should never share intimate photos or videos with prospective partners, especially if you’ve never met them. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.
To avoid scammers, we recommend that you check the profile and identity of the person you are interacting with.
What should I do if I think I have been scammed?
- Cease communication - if you think you have been scammed, the first step is to immediately cease communication with the scammer and ignore any attempts by the scammer to communicate with you and take steps to block future communications, e.g. set up rules in your email account and on your mobile phone.
- Contact site operator - you should report the scammer to the dating site where you first had contact with them, as they may be targeting other users.
- Contact your financial institution - if you have sent money to the scammer, particularly if you have provided any personal or financial details, you should contact your financial institution and inform them. If you have given the scammer information such as account numbers, credit card numbers or passwords you should immediately change them. If you used a service, such as a money transfer service, to send money to the scammer you should contact the service provider so that they can stop others from sending money to the scammer.
- Report the scam to the applicable authorities – for example to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) within the US, or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) via the online reporting form on the ACCC’s scamwatch website www.scamwatch.gov.au. We also recommend you to watch FTC’s video on this matter. - Contact police - if someone attempts to blackmail you, or makes threats of any kind, you should contact the police immediately.
- Beware of future contact - scammers will often contact you under new guises to try and get more money from you. They may pretend to be lawyers, government officials or police, often from another country, and claim that they have caught the scammer and need money to recover your losses.
- Take steps to protect your personal data- scammers collect information about you during a scam for identity theft. Take some time to review what information the scammer might know about you and take steps to change this information if required. Information such as passport numbers, bank account details and driver’s licence numbers are particularly valuable to scammers. Consider changing your mobile phone number, email address and any social media accounts.
- Check your settings on any and all social media accounts and restrict access to friends only. Public access is just that. Anyone can find out very personal information about you including: where you live and work; your patterns and routines; and details about your kids, hobbies and interests.