How to Protect Yourself and your Privacy on Dating Apps
Not too many years ago, finding a date was a relatively easy process. you either received suggestions from friends or family, or you met someone in school or at work. If it seemed like a good match, you asked the person out for coffee or suggested another venue, and connected.
Another alternative was to hit the “singles bars,” where people in their 20’s and 30’s went to enjoy a drink and find a potential dating prospect. Many relationships were built on a chance meeting at one of those bars, and even today the concept in one form or another continues. It may be health clubs, charity events or other venues where like-minded people congregate and look for a potential dating partner..
A New Era in Dating
But the biggest change of all came when dating became an integral part of the Internet and social media. Many websites and apps were developed to encourage people to find their perfect mate, and a new era in dating began. It continues to evolve and thrive, with everything from targeted sites for younger people all the way through to sites and apps designed for those in their 40’s, 60’s and older. The top dating apps ranked by user numbers are Tinder and Bumble.
The problem with all of the social media dating sites and apps is they’re used by hackers and scammers, looking to not only invade your privacy but to steal your personal and financial information. In fact, social media is the biggest single category where data and personal privacy is compromised. Let’s look at some of the ways your privacy is put at risk, and how to protect yourself on those dating apps.
Use the App’s Messaging System
One of the first things people like to do when they’ve met online and are using a dating app is to give out their email address and/or phone number. The problem is you’re not just giving it to the person on the dating app, but also the rest of the world. Here’s the problem: if you go off the app’s messaging protocol, everyone will be able to see your personal information and phone number.
Another way to protect yourself is to ask the person you’re corresponding with for their personal email address and phone number. Then vet it to make sure they’re being honest with you about who they really are. You can use online tools like Nuwber to get accurate and complete information on the person just by entering their phone number or email address. If it doesn’t match with who they said they are, run!
Be Careful about What You Reveal
When you’re on a dating app or website, you want to do a full expose about yourself. It’s exciting, after all, and you are meeting someone new. But here’s a tip: be very careful about what you reveal about yourself when you’re online. Remember, you’re not only talking to the prospective date, you’re talking to the entire Internet universe. So forget about disclosing all of your private details like address, city, phone number, work address, etc. You’ll be able to share that information in due time.
Want to know what other people can find out about you? Just like you use Nuwber to get information on the person you’re talking to, you can use it to get information about yourself. Enter your own information and see what surprises may come up.
Don’t Upload Duplicate Photos
If you are using the same picture of yourself on dating apps as well as social media, be careful. You may be getting yourself in trouble. Here’s why: people can reverse image search your photos and reveal all of your social media accounts and all the personal data you’ve been posting. If you really want to use one of your photos on a dating app, go for it. Just be sure that you’re not using that photo anywhere else.
Watch for Fake Dating Profiles
Start with the person’s photo. If it doesn’t look real, it probably isn’t. Many scammers create fake profiles using stock photos that are professionally taken, with professional lighting. The person even looks like a model. So always check to be sure the photos look like they are natural, and look to see if there’s more than one photo posted.
Here’s another tip: use a website like TinEye to see if the profile photo is a fake. The site lets you upload a photo and using recognition software checks to see if that picture is posted anywhere else on the Internet.
There are other signs that send up red flags, and if you confront any of them, it’s time to end the conversation. They include asking you for money or asking you to send sexy photographs of yourself, asking for too much personal information, or they use incorrect grammar or language, even though they claim that they’re a native speaker. Another red flag: they claim to have fallen in love with you way too soon.
In addition to fake profiles, watch out for “graveyard profiles.” Those are people you swipe or try to chat with who haven’t been active on the site for more than a year. It’s just a waste of time and energy – yours.
Honor your Feelings
Sometimes you have a gut reaction about someone. It may be something that’s said or the way someone may try to push you faster than you want to go. Whatever the reason, you need to honor your feelings. Remember, you don’t need to force yourself into a relationship with someone that you haven’t even met in person yet.
You may feel desperate because you haven’t dated in a while, or you may be driven by the fact that you’ve been single for a long period of time. Whatever the motivation, don’t give in to a fantasy about a person who could be the love of your life. It really never works out that way, and you’ll end up being bitterly disappointed, or worse, scammed.