If you haven’t seen me write it before, I think online dating is fantastic, and apparently many people would agree because a recent poll showed at least 40% percent of web users have tried online dating. I think it’s so great because it gives us a quick way to search for someone we’d like to get to know, a nice (hopefully) pic or two, and a method of making initial contact.
However, some users of the online dating scene are making some HUGE mistakes that could easily make them prey for stalkers and other weirdos. Here are some common mistakes:
1. Typing your name in the profile. “Hi, my name is Paula.” Great, Paula, now any guy knows your first name and (because 90% of dating sites ask you to list your city) your location. TIP: Leave that for the emails from interested users you’re also interested in.
2. Using your email address as a username. “Missy234” Wow, if a stalker added “@yahoo.com” or “@ google.com” after that, I’d be willing to guess he’ll pull up your email, your social networking page, and your linked in profile. TIP: Be creative and don’t put your email address out there. It may be easy to remember, but it’s also easy to find.
3. Listing your workplace. “I work as a registered nurse at Regions.” Any intelligent stalker can figure out how to search Regions employees on social networking sites. All he has to do then is find your picture and he has your profile. He could also use your workplace as a stalking grounds by coming to visit if he finds the exact place you work. Creeeepy. TIP: Leave this one for emails too, but hopefully after the first date.
4. Listing your email, messaging screenname, or username of any other site. Hacking is relatively easy to do for computer savvy individuals. By listing your email, you are giving access to phone numbers, addresses (past and present), job info, etc., and you’re leaving it out there for anyone to break into your sites and steal info or ruin your reputation. TIP: Leave these off of your site and ONLY share with people you intend on getting to know.
5. Posting photos of your home, workplace, or family. With the abundance of information out there, it’s relatively easy to cross-reference an address on the front of a home to find someone’s address. It’s also easy to find workplaces/hangouts and co-workers, or family members. Don’t hide your pictures, or post pictures in which you can’t be seen..most people looking at profiles won’t even click to check yours out of there aren’t clear and detailed pictures of who you are. Just don’t put others at risk because you wanted to post a pic that you think makes your butt look smaller. TIP: Take into account the people and places in your pictures.
Now, if you’re scared of the online dating scene, don’t be. This could ideally happen on any social site from Facebook to Linked In. It’s just another risk to living an online life. Just follow the basic rules of being private until you get to know someone, and you’ll be better off. Good luck out there!