Given a few recent scare stories in the press we thought we would share some tips for meeting up with people that you have met online in real life. Many of these examples are specific to particular types of meeting up (dating, purchases) but many are also good advice to follow any time you are meeting with someone you don’t know well.
Online dating safety
- If a date asks you to meet at their home or somewhere secluded, think twice. Most daters understand it’s sensible to try to stay safe and meet in a public place, at least until you get to know someone better.
- If someone comes on strong and seems serious too soon, it could be a sign of a controlling or obsessive nature
- If someones Facebook account has photos with no tags in them and photos that don’t include family or friends, it might be fake. If every photo looks like it came from a modelling portfolio, raise that red flag!
- If the person you met online hesitates to meet in person and continues to make excuses as to why he/she can’t Skype with you, it should set off alarm bells that something is wrong
- Remember this is a business transaction, so never reveal home or business addresses or banking information unless required for that transaction
- Have a cell phone in your hand during the entire transaction and be ready to call 911 at the first sign of trouble.
- Do not accept cash and do not offer to pay in cash. Use a cashier’s check instead and make it a non-negotiable term of the transaction.
- The higher the price of the item involved, the higher the risk of the transaction. Conduct these transactions at a banking facility so a banking professional can confirm the funds have been delivered successfully.
- Never conduct your transactions at night.
- Tell a trusted friend or family member what you’re doing and have another trusted friend or family member accompany you to the transaction.
Perhaps most importantly, talk on the phone first. Not everyone enjoys phone calls, but you should have at least one or two conversations that aren’t over text-based mediums. If the person you’re talking to says they’re a 20-year-old woman, but they’re really a 45-year-old man, that will be a lot harder to hide on a phone call.
Before you head out, set up your smartphone to share your location with your friends or family. Apps like Moby can let those you trust see where you are at all times. Taking someone with you is better, particularly if you’re dealing with something like a Craigslist sale, but let’s be real. You’re not going to bring two friends on your first date with someone you met online. In that case, use the virtual buddy system to ensure someone has your back.