While technology can make online dating a safer experience, there isn’t a better security measure than your own intuition. To help you develop that intuition, here are 3 easy to use safety tips.
What We Need to Learn From the Ashley Madison Hack
So how do you keep safe on online dating sites?
Whether you’ve been recently burned by the shocking Ashley Madison hack, or whether the scandal has simply got you feeling nervous about other online activities you thought were private, you may need a crash course in safe online dating measures.
Never fear! That’s where we come in. Here is what you can do to keep yourself safe online, and some top features the best dating websites out there are already doing for you.
Make Sure You’re Asked to Verify Your Email
There is a good amount of research you can do on a dating website before you hand over any personal information or hard earned dollars.
The Ashley Madison list of email addresses, while comprehensive, can’t actually be used as proof that the owners of the addresses even clicked on the home page. This is due to the company not employing an email verification feature. Simply put, this means that any email address could be used to sign up to the website, whether it belongs to you or not.
In order to prevent fake profiles that may use your email address as a reference, dating websites such as Zoosk and Match.com ensure you verify your email account, even as a basic member. This simple safety procedure guarantees that the majority of the online dating pool is authentic and minimizes the threat of catphishing.
Use a Trusted Personal Email Account
We recommend you keep business and pleasure separate, by not signing up to any online dating service with your work email address. The last thing you want is for your boss or the IT department to have a peek at your personal life, and if it can all be prevented, it’s surely better that way.
Yahoo Tech reports that “The number of legitimate-looking work emails released in the Ashley Madison hack is kind of mind-blowing. Hackers have posted long lists of addresses organized by domain; they include some 15,000 U.S. government employees as well as members of the military, various large corporations, and even the Vatican.”
Like we said, your business email should serve your professional work and professional work only. Do not in any way put your own privacy at risk by combining business and pleasure under one email address.
Be Careful About What You Disclose
“The data dump included real names, passwords, addresses, dates of birth, credit card numbers, and GPS coordinates for millions of users,” Yahoo report.
While 99% of people you meet online will be looking for dating, romance and fun, and have zero malicious intent, sadly, hackers and con artists do exist. There’s no harm in leaving some personal information out, especially in a public forum such as website chat rooms or your user profile. Never provide an exact address or even date of birth. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger at a bar and immediately provide them with all the tools they need to steal your identity or banking details, so why do it online?
Dating site, Elite Singles suggests that “communicating via our platform is often the safest way to proceed until you get to know the individual in person.”
ALL the top dating websites allow for excellent communication tools like instant messenger, audio and video chat too, so make the most of your subscription.
Another element you need to feel secure in is the additional privacy options the website you are using offers. For example, the the Guardian reports that “The allegations that Ashley Madison’s full delete did not work as advertised are at the heart of the stated motivation for the site’s hack.”
The $25 ‘full delete’ extra should have ensured that user information was deleted from the database. But the Guardian continues “The leaked data included enough information to enable the easy identification of [deleted] users.”
Take Extra Security Measures
We love some of the extra extra verification tips the big names in online dating provide, to help keep you safe from identity theft or scams. Zoosk has recently unveiled their unique Photo Verification feature directly from the Zoosk app, which allows you to upload a ‘seven second selfie’ video that is then checked against your profile photos. What a fun and innovative way of ensuring other users are exactly who they say they are.
Another great security measure used is by Match’s MatchTalk, which provides members the ability to call other members without disclosing their real phone numbers. That way, if the phone conversation doesn’t go well, you don’t have to be concerned with someone having your number.
As always, if you’re worried about anything at all, trust your instincts and report it via the contact us page on any of the top online dating websites. By doing your research and following the above advice, you should feel confident and safe to engage in the important part… finding your match.
Want all the benefits of online dating without worrying about who’s on the other side of the screen? Try a website such as Professional Match, which lets you work with offline matchmakers instead of online profiles.