Online dating safety tips for over 50s

Dating sites are one of the most popular ways to meet a new partner, but for people who are new to the world of online dating – especially if you're coming to it later in life – safety is a major concern. While the overwhelming majority of people on dating sites are nice, normal singletons, it's always a good idea to prepare yourself for people with less wholesome intentions.

Is online dating safe?

Bottom line: online dating is just as safe as dating in the "real world." It's easy to assume that due to the impersonal nature of online dating sites, you're more likely to have a bad experience, but that's not really the case. Research indicates that around a third (32%) of relationships that started between 2015 and 2019 began online. In other words, the type of person you're likely to meet online is no different to the type of person you're likely to meet through friends, at a bar, or in any other everyday situation.

Having said that, online dating is just like any other environment that places you in contact with strangers – it's important to keep your wits about you and protect yourself at all times. All dating websites have romance scammers operating on them. One of the most common is "catfishing," when a scammer uses a fake photo and persona to forge a relationship, and then requests money or personal details through emotional manipulation. Automated programs known as bots can also pose as real people, mimicking natural conversation in order to extract your information.

Following a couple of common-sense online chatting safety tips can help keep you out of harm's way when you're looking for love online.

How long do you chat online before meeting?

There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to the length of time between chatting online and meeting up in person. Ultimately, it comes down to what you feel comfortable with. So, how long do you chat online before meeting? If you're interested in meeting up and you've had a video chat (so you know they are who they say they are), feel free to suggest a date. If the person you're chatting to drags their feet or keeps finding excuses not to meet, it might suggest that something's not quite right.

Online dating dos and don'ts for over 50s

For a little more information about what to do – and in some cases, what not to do – when it comes to keeping safe when online dating, take a look at these online dating dos and don'ts for over 50s:

Dos

  • Video chat with your date before meeting up. One of the most important online chatting safety tips, this can help you avoid being catfished by someone claiming to be a person they aren't. There are lots of different options, including Skype, Facebook, and Google Hangouts.
  • Verify, verify, verify. First, Google your suitor's name to see if you can confirm their personal details. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you're a stalker – it's just due diligence! Then, use Google's "search by image" feature to check if they've taken their profile picture from somewhere else on the web. If they have, it's a pretty solid indicator that they aren't who they say they are.
  • Progress at a pace that suits you. If you've never used an online dating site before, it can be difficult to know what's normal and what isn't. Our best online dating safety tip is to move at a pace that you feel comfortable with. Don't let anyone rush you into meeting up, don't just brush off any lingering doubts or question marks, and don't fall for any premature declarations of love.

Don'ts

  • Give away too much personal information. Your birthday, your address, the names of your family members – it's all information that could be used by scammers. Once you've got to know someone better and feel more comfortable, feel free to share a little more about yourself.
  • Move the conversation off the dating website. If the person you're chatting to wants to take the conversation over to email or another messaging app, be wary. Dating sites have security and anti-fraud software. Once you move the conversation away from the site, you're no longer protected and it's much easier for people with bad intentions to infect your computer with malware or viruses.
  • Give money to someone you meet online. Last in our list of online dating safety tips, but certainly not least, don't give money to someone you've met online. No matter how convincing their story might sound, this should be a serious red flag for any future dates.

As you can see, keeping safe when online dating for over 50s isn't rocket science – just watch what information you give out and remember that if something feels too good to be true, it probably is. If you want to take the next step explore over 50's dating with Free Dating today.