Online dating apps and websites can be a fun way to meet new people. We know meeting people on the internet can have its benefits, you just need to be cautious. Here’s our top tips for staying safe when using online dating websites and apps.
Netsafe’s tips on how to stay safe when dating online
- Protect your personal information: It’s important that you never give out any personal information publicly and that you’re careful not to give out too much information too soon to someone you’ve recently met through an online dating app or website. Information that you should be careful to protect includes your full name, your place of work, your address, your phone number, whether you have children, email address, credit card details or other financial information. Think carefully before adding a potential date or someone you’ve just met on social media. Often people’s social media pages contain a lot of personal information so it’s best that these are kept private and just for people you know and trust.
- Never send money or financial information: Never respond to a request for money or financial information via an online dating app or website, especially if the person is overseas. If this happens you should report the profile who requested the money immediately to the platform or website you are using as this may be a scam. You can find more information about romance scams here.
- Location settings: Where possible don’t allow location sharing on a dating app and don’t share any photos or videos that carry location information.
- Keep kids safe: Make sure your dating profile doesn’t have any photos or information about your children. If your children do come up in conversation with someone you’ve recently met online make sure you are careful about what you share – remember if you feel uncomfortable about anyone you meet online it’s best to move on.
- Report suspicious or abusive behaviour: If you feel uncomfortable about a person who you met online it’s best to stop communicating with them and move on to someone else. If their behaviour is abusive or suspicious you should report their profile to the platform immediately and block them from contacting you further. Some examples of the types of behaviour that you should report include being asked for money or donations, a child or minor using the platform, being sent abusive or offensive messages, someone behaving inappropriately after meeting in person and fraudulent profiles. Here are some links to the safety centres of some of the biggest online dating apps and websites:
If you meet someone in person
Once you’ve got to know someone via online dating, you might decide to meet up with someone you’ve met online.
- Get to know them first: Try to get to know the person online first before meeting up with them in person. It’s safer to keep these communications limited to the dating app or website you’re using rather than moving to another platform.
- Do some digging: Use the information that you know about the person to do a bit of digging about them online. Check that what they’ve told you matches up with what you find when you search for their details.
- Always meet and stay in public: If you do decide to go ahead with going on a first date make sure that you meet up in a place that is public. It’s important that you don’t go anywhere private with them until you’ve got to know them better. If your date pressures you to go somewhere private with them end the date and leave immediately. Have a plan of what to do if something doesn’t feel right and you want to leave – don’t stay if you feel uncomfortable, just because you don’t want to offend the other person.
- Tell friends and family where you are going: If you’ve organised to meet your date at a particular time and place make sure you tell friends and family where you are and who you’re there with. It’s also important that you have your cellphone with you and fully charged while you’re on the date.
- Sort your own transport: It’s important that you organise your own transport to and from the date. This way you’re in control and independent, especially if something doesn’t work out. It’s also important to think carefully before letting the other person know where you live – one way to avoid this it to arrange your own transport.
- Stay sober: Alcohol and drugs can make it difficult for you to keep a clear head and feel in control of what is going on, and may potentially put you in danger. Consider meeting during the day for coffee rather than meeting at a bar just to be safe. If you do decide to drink make sure you don’t leave your drink unattended.
If something goes wrong
If you or someone you know is in danger call 111 immediately and speak to the Police. Emergency situations include a recent threat of violence or sexual violence, recent act of violence or sexual violence or if your health or someone else’s is in danger.
If something has happened and you’re in need of help, support or advice with sexual or physical assault visit the Rape Prevention Education directory for a list of support services around New Zealand.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.
- Email [email protected]
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282