If you are considering giving an online dating site a try, you are far from alone. Forty percent of Americans currently use online dating to help find that special someone, according to eHarmony, one of the major websites in the online dating arena. In general, more men than women use an online dating site—52.4 percent versus 47.6 percent—and about one-fifth of people have asked a trusted friend to help them write their profile. But unfortunately, just over half of people lie on that profile—this can range from using an older photo that shows them as thinner and younger to fibbing about jobs and other important info.
In order to avoid some common online dating traps and scams, and join the 20 percent of couples who first met online, keep your guard up, your wits about you and the following tips and points in mind:
Avoid Giving Out Too Much Info, Too Soon
After spending hours carefully creating your online profile, a person who looks and sounds really nice reaches out to you and before you know it, you are on the phone, chatting away. While you may be giddy that someone reacted so positively to your profile, you should definitely exercise caution. Instead of pouring out your life history and divulging all of your personal info like your full name, address and where you work, your first calls should really be short and sweet and focus more on getting a general idea of what the other person is like, and if your conversation flows naturally or is awkward and uncomfortable.
Catfish Belong in the Water—Not on Your Phone
Even if the person seems like a cool guy or great girl, there are “catfish” on these sites—they are basically people who set up fake profiles with the intention of deceiving or defrauding others. The last thing you want to do is tell a scam artist all sorts of personal stories and info and have him or her take advantage of you.
In addition to being super careful about these first conversations, it’s also a good idea to invest in an ID protection plan as a cautionary measure. In addition to protecting you from catfish who might try to steal your identity, an identity theft protection service can also help in case any dating apps or websites that you are using are hacked by a cybercriminal.
Which is Better? Free or Paid Sites?
While free online dating sites are a great way to find out if online dating is for you—without investing a single penny—there are some drawbacks. Because they are free to use, they may attract a huge volume of people who are not necessarily looking for a serious relationship. Matches may be suggested based on location rather than interest, and you may have to wade through a ton of people to find someone you may want to contact.
On the other hand, people on paid online dating sites have invested money in joining, so they may be more serious about finding a good relationship. Also, since users have paid good money to be part of the site, they will probably be more active on their account and reachable. Feel free to start with a complimentary site, but if it’s not going anywhere, you may find that signing up with a paid dating site will be an invaluable investment—especially if it helps you find that special someone.
Plenty of People Have Found Love Online—You Can Too
If you are ready to take the plunge and give online dating a try, by all means, do so. Like many other things in life, just keep your eyes and ears open and your good solid common sense activated at all times. By being aware of nasty catfish and keeping conversations very general at first—along with being proactive about your personal data with an identity theft program—you may well become part of the 20 percent of online dating site users who find the person of your dreams, with the help of the internet.