With technology constantly advancing, more and more aspects of life are moving online, including communication, education, and dating. But online dating has its risks, and it can be easy to be tricked and manipulated, so we’ve put together a shortlist of the dos and don’ts of the dating world to make sure you stay safe online.

Check Who You’re Talking To

One problem with online dating is you never truly know who you’re talking to, at least until you meet them. There are plenty of people out there who’ll pretend to be somebody else in order to trick and manipulate people – whether that’s because of money or malicious intentions. This makes it important to do everything you can to make sure you know exactly who you’re talking to, and whether there’s any danger. An easy way to do this is to reverse image search their profile picture on whatever website or app you’re using – if you find images that are identical or similar, possibly even from another person’s profile entirely, you know this is a no-go and someone to be avoided. Most apps and websites have a reporting tool so you can notify the company and stop others from falling into their trap.

Keep Your Private Information Private

It may sound obvious but making even the slightest bit of your personal information available to the public domain leaves you at risk. Most people know not to give out addresses, phone numbers, specific workplaces, bank account details (trust us, it happens), but there are plenty of things people tend to miss, too – particularly in pictures, if there’s a house, street name, door number (either yours or a friends or relatives), this puts you in great danger of being harassed or stalked. Check over your pictures to make sure there’s nothing that anybody could use to locate you or any of your friends and family, and make sure to keep your private profile just that – private. It sounds tedious, we know, but choosing between tedious or safe is not something you want to get wrong.

Trust Your Gut

Sometimes, things just don’t seem right. Perhaps someone’s suggesting you meet in a quiet location (or even their home), or they’re a bit too full-on (or even threatening) in conversation, or maybe you just get a funny feeling. Often, when speaking to someone online, we can get red flags that tell us there’s something wrong here; our subconscious is very good at picking up bad vibes, and usually, they’re getting at something. If you feel uncomfortable about anything, don’t do it, particularly if you feel pressured or coerced into it. Even if you don’t, even if there’s nothing particularly wrong and it just feels off, it’s much better to be safe than sorry – it’s possible you may get a bad reaction from the other person, but if that is the case then you know you were right to stay away.

These are just small tips on how to stay safe whilst online dating – remember, always take what you read and see with an air of caution – anything online can easily be edited or manipulated, and it’s much better to stay safe than sorry.