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Online Safety Tips

But this is a Science site - who needs safety tips?
Just because we cater to a more intellectual audience doesn't mean you should cast your common sense to the 4 winds ~ always be careful, and take your time.

Here are some tips for safer online dating. These tips are not to be taken as a complete guide, or a guarantee of any kind. You are always in charge of your own safety when dealing with others on the internet.

Be careful about the personal information you give out when you first meet someone online. Don't supply your last name, outside email address, home address, phone number, place of work, or other identifying information in your initial emails. Be aware that phone technology may allow someone to see your identity or location. If anyone tries to pressure you into revealing personal information, it's a red flag... There's no hurry - take your time and expect honorable, forthright behavior. Be aware of spammers / scammers - if anyone ever asks you for money, or to make a financial transaction of any kind - stop communicating with them immediately and notify us.

Trust your feelings, and move cautiously. As you correspond, be on the lookout for strange behavior or inconsistencies. Ask questions and make sure you are satisfied with the answers. If you think someone is full of bs, or tends to steer the conversation towards unwelcome themes, walk away. Take all the time you need before moving to a more personal relationship.

Resist becoming prematurely personal or intimate with someone. Remember, in the desire to find companionship, it is very easy to lead yourself to believe you know someone better than you really do, so take your time! Photos will help you get a more accurate idea of someone's personality, so ask for pictures in different settings. Always talk to someone on the phone before meeting with them. Talking by telephone will give you a much more accurate insight into your new friend's personality, character, and social skills. Call from a pay phone or a phone with Caller ID blocking until there is trust. Be aware that now or in the future, there may be phone technology which defeats caller ID blocking, or lets the other person see your location. Listen to the person you are getting to know, and pay close attention to what they say. Ask questions and be sure that you are satisfied with the answers.

Meet when YOU are ready - do not be pressured into it! Any kind of pressure to meet should be a big red flag to you - do not tolerate it, and don't be afraid to change your mind about meeting. If someone argues about meeting, finds flaws in your thinking, or pressures you, don't meet with them. Sensitive people understand the risks involved with online dating, and will respect any caution you convey.

Make your first meeting in a public setting - don't meet at your residence, or theirs. Tell someone where you are going and when you will return, and leave your date's name and phone number with that person. Don't have your date pick you up - instead, drive to the meeting place yourself, so if the date isn't working for you, you can leave. If you decide mid-date to go somewhere else together, drive yourself. Be safe until you are completely comfortable with someone.

When meeting outside your area: If you're flying in, make your own transportation and lodging reservations, and keep them to yourself. Don't meet your date at your hotel. If the meeting location chosen seems unsafe or inappropriate to you when you arrive there, go back to your hotel. Always make sure a friend or family member knows your plans and has your contact information. If possible, carry a cell phone at all times.

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