While the Internet provides millions of opportunities for people to meet each other, you must remember to use common sense. It's easy to get swept up into a fantasy world, but reality begs for us to use caution. Like the offline world, the online world has its ups and downs - good people and bad people. While the majority of people can be trusted, we must all be aware of the scammers, liars and the rare but present predators. While there are risks, hiding from the world is not the answer. There are many ways to protect yourself and find someone online! Here are several tips for you to remember.
Online Safety in General...
1) Never, ever give out personal information. This may be the most important thing for you to remember. Your personal information includes your telephone number, date of birth, social security number, or address. If they want to send something to you through the mail, get a post office box. They're not expensive! No matter how nice the other person may seem, you do not know them. While most people are decent, you can never be absolutely sure. Don't risk having this information fall into the wrong hands.
2) On the telephone?
-Activate your caller ID blocking feature to keep your number private.
-Don't call collect! Your number will show up on their phone bill.
-If you want the other person to be able to contact you, get a pager.
- Use a payphone. It may be a hassle, but well worth it!
3) Get a current picture. Use a current picture and add the VerifiedNetID membership logo to it (This is a free service of membership). This may not exactly be a safety issue - but more of an honesty issue. Be honest and post a current photo even if you've gained a few pounds! If the other person's picture seems to be outdated, and they refuse to update it, you must put them in the "dishonest" pile. Even if you do not have a scanner, there's a variety of cheap and easy ways to get a photo scanned. There's no reason for someone to lie, unless they're hiding something. Don't put up with their dishonesty.
Communication and Red Flags...
1) Get the details. Feel free to scrutinize the emails and chat sessions you have with another person. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. If they're vague about their life, try to get some non-intrusive details. Red flags are people who are vague, talk in circles, or answer questions with questions. Be very cautious with these types of people. They may be playing hard to get, or they may not be someone you should continue communicating with.
2) Are they hiding something? If the other person can only meet and chat with you in the middle of the night, they may have a secret. If you call them and they talk in a hushed voice or "have to go" all of a sudden, they may not be as single as they claim. If you call at a non-designated time and they get angry, feel free to assume that they're hiding something from you. Red flags are anyone who uses fancy footwork, excuses, or evasive maneuvers. If they cannot be honest with you from the get-go, don't count on them to ever be straightforward.
3) Ask them to sign up for VerifiedNetID.com. If they are serious and have nothing to hide this is the most effective way to separate the sincere serious individuals from the players. If you are a member and they have issues with joining, they may not be as sincere or serious as you are.
4) Don't put off meeting in person. While online relationships can be full of intrigue, your ultimate goal is to find a casual or serious partner. Why put it off? Why invest in a relationship online if it's going nowhere offline? Make sure the spark you get from your chat sessions and email also exists in the "real world". Red flags are anyone who puts it off or avoids answering your questions about meeting. And remember, if you do not have the money to invest in a long distance relationship, don't start one. Online dating requires that your brain and your heart work together to make the best and safest decisions for you.
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