Finding a date, not to mention love and possibly a new life partner is a tough gig. Increasingly, Canadians – including seniors – are looking to the Internet and online dating sites in particular to help them find that special someone.
Whether you’re already using online dating sites, or thinking about it, here are some tips to help keep you safe:
- Find a good online dating site: in fact there are sites designed specifically for seniors that may meet your needs, such as Senior Friend Finder, Senior Match and Senior People Meet. An organization that manually screens profiles and has a process for allowing you to report concerns directly from their site are good indicators of a reputable dating site. Read online reviews to learn about other peoples’ experiences and be sure to read their terms and conditions to understand what you’re signing up for. If you are offered a free trial, make sure that you can discontinue your subscription, should you wish to, at the end of the trial period.
- Set up an email address for online dating: it is recommended that you don’t share your primary email address – instead set up an email address that you use only for online dating – this way if you meet someone online who turns out to not be a match, you don’t have to worry about them having your primary email address you use to communicate with friends and family.
- Create an engaging profile: be honest and open about who you are and what you’re looking for but be cautious about what information you share online. If you’re taking pictures with your smartphone to use as your profile picture, ensure that geo-tagging is turned off and be careful about what else is in your picture that could potentially give away too much information.
- Be alert for scams: do not respond to asks for money / wire transfers – even if the person claims they are in a dire situation. You have no way of confirming the authenticity of their claim and once you send your money, it will be almost impossible to get it back. Cyber criminals may move quickly from online to email and even phone conversations. Also – keep in mind that a reputable online dating site will never send you an email requesting confidential information such as your social security number, banking, credit card or password information.
- Be cautious if you plan to meet: take your time getting to know someone online before meeting them in person. If you do decide to meet, pick a public place (don’t meet at your residence or theirs), let your friends/family know about your plans, and have your charged cell phone with you. You have to trust your gut and stay away from situations that make you feel uncomfortable or just don’t seem right.
We hope you find these tips useful. If you’re looking to learn more about staying safe online read our TELUS Wise seniors’ guide: Helping Canadian Seniors navigate their digital world.