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Using Internet Dating Services

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
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When you consider the spotty-faced boy serving up limp vegetables in the student canteen or the greasy-haired girl shelving musty books in the library it’s no wonder many students decide to check out Internet dating services. Online dating services have boomed in the last few years with members uploading their pictures and personal information in the hopes of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right. While this may result in many happy matches, it also leaves every user wide open to security concerns. If you are thinking about using an Internet dating service, take care to cover yourself correctly and proceed with caution - just like you would on any first date!

Protect Yourself

Though the vast majority of members use Internet dating services correctly and in good faith, a small minority are there for more sinister reasons. “Sweetheart scams” have become commonplace in Internet dating services, with some member falsely representing themselves and spending months gaining others’ trust in order to use them for financial fraud. Protect yourself online as you would when first meeting any total stranger. Feel free to write about your love of Formula One, French fries or Fridays, but protect your personal and contact information. Never give a stranger your:
  • Full name.
  • Address.
  • Work address.
  • Home telephone number.
  • Bank account details.
  • Credit card details.

Plan a Secure Meeting

If you get to chatting with another Internet dating service member and decide to meet up then that’s great! Just don’t forget your personal security in the excitement. Only agree to interact with other Internet dating service members in the “real world” when:
  • You have been in contact for several weeks, at the very least.
  • It is in a public place with others around.
  • It is preferably during the day.
  • It does not involve giving him/her money, getting him/her money from a bank or by cashing a cheque or money order, or giving him/her any of your financial information.
  • You avoid alcohol during the meeting, or keep a strict eye on your drink at all times.
  • You are comfortable leaving immediately if (s)he does not look as described, act as described or otherwise puts you on alert.

Enjoy Yourself

With all of the warnings out the way, remember to enjoy yourself if you decide to participate in an Internet dating service! These programmes were developed to help like-minded people connect and are often very successful, if everyone is honest. Don’t state that you love football if you only suffer through Match of the Day because your flatmate wrestles the remote control from you. If you do, then don’t be surprised when a potential match turns out to be unable to name a Razorlight song even though (s)he claims to be their biggest fan. Keep everything truthful and above board – including any pictures that you might post – and everyone will benefit.

Due to a variety of scams, stalking stories and other risky business, Internet dating services should be joined with a grain of salt. Remember that it’s just as likely that you will find your perfect match as you will find someone perfectly revolting. Be honest, have fun and don’t be too disappointed if you don’t find a perfect partner right away – for all you know (s)he is sitting right next door anyway!

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