Online Dating Safety | Must Read!
by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.
As the online dating industry continues to expand in multiple directions, its impact can be felt in numerous ways. For starters, the stigma once associated with online dating is quickly diminishing as it becomes mainstream and seen as a legitimate way to meet other singles. Next, it’s reaching our vernacular with big sites like Match and eHarmony being tossed around like common terms everyone should know. Third, there’s increased press around online dating scams, such as the lady on Christian Mingle in the United States getting scammed out of $500,000 from a man in Nigeria. When it comes to online dating safety, there’s great debate on who’s responsible. Some say dating sites are 100% responsible and should ensure all members on their site are legit and authentic to protect the welfare of their members. Others say members are 100% responsible because they should take precautions when meeting someone online so it is up to them. In reality, both are responsible for doing their part for safe dating online.
For site members, they must remember that meeting someone online always involves a certain level of risk. Therefore, it’s wise to use dating sites who advertise and implement safety precautions because there will probably be a lower rate of scammers on those sites. However, even if a dating site claims they are taking certain precautions, members should not use that as an excuse to not take certain precautions themselves. Therefore, no matter what dating site one is using, they should follow the tips for online dating safety below to protect themselves.
Online Daters Should Do The Following:
Create a separate email account for your online dating profile to keep your private one secure. Take your time getting to know someone online and allow at least 1-3 weeks of communication to discern their authenticity and if you feel a connection. Next, set up a few video chats through FaceTime or Skype to further discern their authenticity and your connection with them. At this point, it's wise to ask for the full name and date of birth so you can run a background check on them to ensure there's no history of sexual misconduct or criminal background. If all checks out, move onto setting up your first real date. When planning this, be sure to keep it in public, let others know where you'll be and when you should be back, take your own mode of transportation, and obviously bring your cell phone. Keep dates in public for the first handful of times to look for any red flags, such as someone asking for money, having behavioral fluctuations, or pressuring you to meet alone.
For site owners, they need to realize they have a certain level of responsibility for the legitimacy of the profiles on their site because members come there in good faith by trusting their brand. Therefore, to claim it is entirely up to its members to be safe is negligence on their part because it absolves them of taking any rightful ownership. Unfortunately, many site owners decide to intentionally ignore fake profiles because it helps their site look fuller and they know scammers will create more revenue for them by sending out numerous messages to other members. Obviously, this is unethical and change is needed. Therefore, the following guidelines are strongly recommended for site owners.
Dating Site Owners Should Do The Following:
Site owners should freeze every profile that is created so they can be manually reviewed before going live on their site. This would require a real person looking at multiple dimensions of the profile to discern if it looks legitimate or not. It's amazing how many profiles are blatantly fake but no one is there reviewing them. Next, if the file is unquestionably fake it should be deleted; however, if you're not quite sure, freeze the profile and ask the member to send you a copy of their driver's license to ensure their legitimacy. Very few spammers will go through the trouble of sending in a fake license. However, it's a good idea to check any license that is sent with images of real licenses for their state to ensure it looks accurate. Also, site owners should review their attempted transactions daily. Spammers will often try multiple attempts with different cards and names. Therefore, if you see this then delete the profile the transactions are coming from.
So who is responsible for online dating safety….both the site members and the site owners. As mentioned earlier, online dating involves a certain level of risk and neither site members nor site owners can take out 100% of that risk. However, if both are doing their part consistently, the overall risk will drop dramatically.
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Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a licensed psychologist in Denver, CO and founder of a Couples Retreat, a Christian Dating Site for Christian Singles, a Couples Bible Study, and a Porn Addiction Seminar.
Who do you think should be responsible for online dating safety and why?
I know this is late in coming, but when doing a CBI, you may have to do it out of state or go to a higher level of checking like FBI CBI . In Colorado, they will do a CBI / Colorado only. I do agree that there needs to be a level of discernment and wisdom when involved in online dating, however, there are those believers who are desperate and with that desperation, it is not uncommon to not use common sense and become too pushy, assertive or even aggressive when looking for their besherth. I would highly encourage those who are divorced to attend a divorce recovery group in their area and work through what brought about the relationship end along with other issues dealing with personal thoughts, feelings, emotions. This is only a beginning, after that I might suggest Celebrate Recovery to deal with personal hurts, habits and hang ups to have an accountability partner and to be deliberate and willing to follow biblical principles to gain personal healing. However, I find that with a majority of single CBIC and CSIC, they are perusing and signing up for several websites that are not Christian/Biblically based ....I personally know many who are on Match, POF, Spark, Zoosk, and others who use singles groups on MeetUp. Unfortunately, the paradigm is one's own recognizance and moral compass. Those who have been self deceptive and self lying may not be giving entirely truthful information on themselves. That is where it is necessary to almost make it mandatory to do the personality test, but also a psychological test as well, perhaps you will consider having the latter on the website. I am grateful for your writings, they are very well put and offer a lot to give thought to. I also believe when meeting that one's personal effects be kept in some kind of body travel pack and not in a purse or wallet. Carrying what is only necessary for that time, I make use of cash still, no checks or cards. I also will not travel home afterwards, but go to another public place like a shopping mall or make connection with another friend to meet up with afterwards. First contact should be daytime hours if at all possible. Make sure someone familywise or friend knows your itinerary and a contact number to reach you at. I found what was helpful for me was to take a class course on body language / facial expressions - it can make a difference when used properly and not for intimidation. There are covert scammers who will use other peoples' identities such as FB if they are very complete, then it just takes some tech savvy to copy a photo or a similar photo w/shades on to post and BGC will be somewhat useless. Scammers in some cases will have an "alternate" identity that is harder to know who the person actually is.
Emails adds might be the same way, not using one's personal name but a pseudonym. I find that genuine individuals don't hide who they are. There are several good books by Christian authors/mentors which can help when returning to active dating. One last comment, I believe in Christian courtship......it can be a wonderful time with other daters and gives space to learn about each other over time. Terra
we should be very careful and mindful. we should also be faithful in all things we do. when u r faithful u can also b trusted.
Yes, there are other 'Christian' dating sites that I am on, and the female profiles are almost all scammers. These are the tools I use to weed them out:--
1) Grammer: People in, or from, english speaking countries can conjugate.
2) Incomplete profiles: I understand not wanting to disclose some information, like your income, but when their height, eye color, and ethnicity aren't disclosed, it's a good bet that it's a scammer.
3) E-mail: when the first message has their e-mail address, it's because they don't want the moderator to see what they are doing.
These are just a few tools I use. I hope they help.
Thank God that He guides my way wherever I go and whatever I am doing.
I agree with everything that has been said so far. Early on in this process, I found myself flattered and very trusting of everyone who wrote to me. I tried two other sites before I found out about your site. I allowed myself to be pulled into a scam - thankfully, the scammer gave me a country code and phone number that, when googled, showed up as a bogus country code. Since then I have been very careful as I looked at profiles, and, I have found a number of men who were inconsistent with the information they disclosed. For example, one stated early on in the profile that he had 4 beautiful boys. By the end of the profile, his family had grown to 6 children, 4 boys and a girl. One thing I have noticed is that many of these people want you to immediately get off site for email, using excuses like, "I am very busy in my work, and don't have a lot of time to get on the dating site." Also, I have noticed several men who say things like, "I love to walk on the beach every night," but they live in somewhere like Kansas (landlocked and near no beaches.)
I think the site management should be very careful and should monitor potential clients carefully. But, ultimately, it is our responsibility to be discerning about who we communicate with. I ask God each day to help me to be wise and to see inconsistencies in profiles.
Thanks, Dr. Wyatt for doing everything in your power to screen people and to "weed out" those who seek connection for wrong motives.
By the way, are there women scammers? I don't hear of this happening, but I am sure it must.
Thank you so much for this wonderful site.
U are doing a great job and I love reading your mails. I just want to add a suggestion that u should include parish and pastors emails in your membership registration forms, so as to privately email that parish and pastor to confirm clients identity. It will go a long way to prevent scams, especially African scammers on net, bcos no genuine pastor will give a fake testimony, nor will a fake christian find it easy to be your member. Many Christian ladies are easily deceived on net by scams. Finally, I advise u monitor conversation of men who profess love to more than 5 ladies in a day and 10 within a week, so as to dictate flirts and scams. That will go a long way to make yr site the most prestigious site. Honestly, well done sir, u are doing a good job. From Pastor Faith Lami - Ghana/ West Africa.
Thanks so much! I think that we all need to be reminded to be careful and mindful of who we are considering having an important role in our lives!
There is no question that both sides share responsibility. I can't understand anyone who thinks the entire burden should be borne by only one or the other. As customers, we must remember to "let the buyer beware", and employ our God-given common sense. Given others the benefit of the doubt is an admirable quality, but online, one must employ a healthy skepticism. As the provider, you need to employ the latest safety measures on the tech side, and some sensible filters during the account creation process. But honestly, there is only so much you can do to control who creates an account. There isn't much to stop people from lying on a form, right? That's why we customers have to remain alert and, I'm sorry to say, a tad cynical. God protects us, but He also gave us brains. He wants us to use them!
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