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ONLINE DATING SAFETY - Article 1

By Eira Culverwell  Aug 10th, 2017 

Helping you make online dating an enjoyable, safe and fun experience

Dating is a journey which can be an enjoyable and fun experience. We want people to get the most out of using dating services.

Following our dating journey to learn more about writing your profile, getting to know someone and meeting up and how to stay safe while doing so.

Online dating safety

Whilst the vast majority of individuals who use online dating services are sincere and honest about the information they give and in their reasons for joining the services, as always, exceptions do exist.

The safety of those using online dating is a primary concern across the industry, however you should think about your own personal safety too. When you embark on online dating you will be thinking a lot about what you want from a relationship but you should always be giving thought to how to stay safe. Use care and common sense when communicating with or meeting new people, both online and offline.

Here are a few tips to help you have a safe experience together with links to organisations that can offer professional expert advice and practical assistance if needed.

  • Creating Your Online Dating Profile

  • Getting To Know New People And Protecting Yourself

  • Meeting In-Person

  • Reporting A Concern Or Problem

Creating Your Online Dating Profile

Protect your identity and personal information. Most sites will encourage you to create a User Name that does not contain your surname and doesn’t let everyone know who you are.

Remember sexually explicit, provocative or controversial user names could attract the wrong kind of attention.

Stay in control when it comes to how and when you share information and don’t share personal details until you are ready. It is also best to avoid including contact information such as your email address, home address, where you work or your phone numbers in your profile.

When it comes to pictures, as a general rule, only share images that you wouldn’t mind others seeing.

When you are having a conversation online think whether you would be saying and sharing the same things if you were meeting the other person face-to-face. Services give you the time and a level of anonymity. Use it to get to know people at a pace you feel comfortable with. It is totally sensible to be cautious about how much information you share at first and even over time.

Dating sites often offer mail and chat services so you can get to know people in a safe and controlled environment. Make the most of their platforms and the added security it gives you. Take care when providing contact details to people who say their subscription is about to end. A common behaviour of scammers is to take the conversation away from the safety of the dating site as quickly as possible.

 ·         Do Your Own Research

Online dating sites work hard to moderate profiles, however it is always worth doing some research of your own before meeting someone for the first time. Try searching for social media profiles or do a web search to see if there are any records or images of the person online. For example check their LinkedIn or run a Google Image search to check any photos provided.

·         Be Aware Of The Warning Signs – Scammers

Although the vast majority of individuals who use online dating services are honest about the information they give, as with all social networking sites, there may be some exceptions. Dating sites, the police and others work to keep scammers off sites. Scammers want one thing and one thing only – money.

Here are a few examples of behaviours to watch out for:

Moving too quickly – Be cautious if the relationship progresses more quickly than you are used to. Sudden declarations of love may sound nice but other motives could be there. Use common sense and don’t be afraid to speak to a friend to get a second opinion.

Irregular behaviour – If the person seems vague, tries to take the conversation offline, has an unlikely story or acts inappropriately, then proceed with caution and don’t hesitate to report them.


The ODA, member companies, the police and online protection agencies share the following advice about scammers:

  • Never ever respond to a request for money

  • Never give out bank account or personal details

  • Beware of a sob story or fantastic too good to be true business deals

  • Watch out for profiles that immediately tug on heart strings such as ill relatives or those requiring money urgently

  • Don’t let the passing of time and some sense of closeness to someone online cloud your judgment. These sorts of pitches may take time to come out in messages. That does not make them any less of a lie.

  • Be wary of long distance and overseas relationships

  • Be wary of profiles from foreign countries

  • Be careful about the images you share, never share anything you wouldn’t mind your family or others seeing

  • Don’t ever feel responsible silly or scared if you think there is a problem. You welfare and that of others comes first

  • Always ask a friend – if they advise you against the relationship listen to them

  • Report anyone who is acting suspiciously to the dating site you are using

Meeting In-Person

Be smart and stay safe. Going on a date with someone is new and exciting. Although you’ve probably got to know the person better during your conversations, it’s still worth taking note of the following tips to ensure you stay safe when dating and especially on a first date:

  • Let friends or family members know where you're going and when you'll be home and keep them regularly updated
  • Meet in a public place with lots of people around, don’t be tempted to meet at your date’s house
  • Use your own transportation to get to and from the date
  • Watch your alcohol intake and don’t leave your drink unattended
  • Keep your purse, wallet, phone, and personal items with you
  • Take your mobile phone with you
  • Leave at any time if you feel uncomfortable, remember your safety comes first

Reporting A Concern Or Problem

If someone you are talking to is making you feel uncomfortable cease your communication with them and report them to the dating service provider or the police immediately. All ODA members have reporting arrangements to deal with any concerns you may have.

As an industry we are keen to encourage anyone who has experienced inappropriate behaviour to seek support from the police or public and charitable bodies who are experts in this area. Please see the links below:

  • Action Fraud is the national reporting agency for fraud routing cases to the Police locally and nationally and issuing crime numbers.
  • SARC offer victims of sexual crime an integrated service where victims can receive medical care, psychological counselling, legal advice and other support, all in one place from professionally trained staff.

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