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Online dating is a safe, popular way to expand your social circle and enjoy the convenience of having potential new partners pre-screened by compatibility experts. However, as with all online encounters, it is best to keep a few key points in mind when making contacts to maximize the number of meaningful connections and minimize the risk of scams and unfulfilling experiences. Fake or misleading profiles are created for a variety of reasons, ranging from harmless experimentation to the desire to extort funds from other sympathetic users of the site. Fortunately, the owners of such profiles are generally easy to spot, and the following red flags should signal a possible issue.
Unrealistic or Suggestive Photos
Individuals seeking long-term relationships are more likely to post flattering, recent photographs that give a realistic portrait of themselves in an everyday setting. Photos that seem a bit too polished (e.g. photos of military officials, good looking businessman…) or even suggestive may indicate that a stolen image is being used. If you have any doubts, you may search an image through many standard search engines to ascertain whether the picture has been lifted from another site and does not belong to the user.
Little Profile Data
If a profile does not contain enough personal information to give other users a reasonable view of the member’s personality and lifestyle, it may be best to avoid making contact. Members interested in using dating services in legitimate ways are generally happy to provide basic profile information in order to attract views from a specific subset of users.
Idealistic Profile Data
As with unrealistic photographs, overly idealistic profile data can also signal an issue. Be wary of exaggerated claims, whether in terms of physical characteristics, romantic tendencies, religion or lifestyle, that seem targeted at attracting the widest possible segment of the site’s member population, and that reveal little discretion or restraint.
Demands for Commitment That Are Not Reciprocated
Members should always respect the privacy of other users. Asking for the email address right away, moving the relationship forward too quickly, and not responding to similar requests for commitment are generally unacceptable behaviors.
Information Given Does Not Correspond to Profile
During initial chats, members should try to reconcile information written in profiles and suggested in photographs with information given by the other party. Even a small discrepancy may be worth a second glance.
No Other Longstanding Social Media Presence
It is rare for an individual with a legitimate online dating profile to have no other social media presence. A brief search engine inquiry should locate some other links, and those links should generally have been established well before the dating profile was created.
No Investment in the Site
Be wary of members who have invested little time or money into placing their dating profile online. At the very least, a time commitment made toward preparing a thorough, active profile page should be evident.
User Makes Requests for Funds
Under no circumstances should members be asked to give financial donations to other members. Never give out personal banking information, credit card numbers, or anything that might link back to your financial institution. There are no exceptions to this rule.
A Common Sense Approach
By utilizing the very same common sense strategies used when making new contacts in offline settings, members can rest assured that their judgment should suffice when it comes to avoiding online dating scams and making worthwhile contacts. Of course, never give money to another member, and be careful to share private information only when you become entirely comfortable doing so. By taking these simple steps, members increase their odds of success and of having a safe, enjoyable experience.
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