Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cyber Safety: Protecting Yourself on the Net & Off (When Dating)

One of the most popular reasons people use the Internet is for Internet dating. The gay community has many different sites they can use to find the man of their dreams. Unfortunately, Internet dating has inspired another group of individuals to search the profiles on Internet dating sites across the web. These are the sexual deviants and murderers. 

The most dangerous individuals in the world now have an outlet they can use to prey on the weak, ignorant, and unaware individuals who believe Internet dating is safe. Not every person you will meet online is crazy. Regretfully, though, you'll never truly know if someone is crazy - or not - until you find out through a mutual acquaintance, or you meet them in person. 

In the earliest days of the Internet, and even today, people have been way too trusting when meeting others offline. They stayed at their houses. They didn't give family, or friends, contact information. They didn't even have any idea where they were when visiting. All these things lead them down a path to become easy prey to those 'predators' more powerful than they were.

Now is the time to fight back. It is the time to take control of your life as you weed out the losers to find the true winners on Internet dating sites. Don't let the losers, who are only out to hurt you, win. Finding the perfect man will certainly make up for having to deal with any of these losers, anyway. Right? So, here are some reminders of things you need to know in order to remain safe while dating online - or in person. 

#1 - Never give out Personal Information  

Never give out your full name, phone number, and address to someone you just met. Even if you believe you want to start dating you should still use caution when giving out this information. If you have a cell phone you may want to give this out instead of a home phone line, which is more easily traced. But you should never give out your address too soon. It's better to meet in a mutually agreed place that is in public. Later, after you become to know and trust the other person, you may give out your address to arrange a visit, or a dinner at your place. Additionally, this protects them as well. They will be able to inform their own relatives where they will be. 

#2 - Never Give out Username/Password information  

 If your new girlfriend wants your username and password then you might want to question her motivations for wanting such information. If she is persistent, and cannot take no for an answer, you may have to reconsider your relationship. If she gets a hold of this information she may find out other information through your email, or credit card bill. A common thing people do is to use the same username/password for every site they go to. Additionally, many sites will send you your username/password to your email address, if you request a 'lost password retrieval'. So, basically, if someone has access to even one of your accounts, then they may, too, have access to all of your other online accounts.

#3 - Report Stalking 

If you meet someone online and they soon become a stalker you can report this to both online organizations that work with the police force and the police in your state. Depending on where you are, the stalking laws for offline stalking usually apply to online stalking, as well. Do not be afraid to report the stalker! If they persist in stalking you they can lose their phone line, or Ethernet connection if their ISP is notified and their stalking activity can be verified. Usually it can as ISP's usually log the activity of each user. 

#4 - Set up a System with Family/Friends 

Whether you are meeting him or he is meeting you, does not matter. You should both inform family and/or friends of the upcoming rendezvous. Your friend should know when the meeting is occurring, where the meeting will take place, and they should check in with your cell phone or line at home throughout the evening. If you are not responding to their calls they will know something is wrong and can promptly inform the authorities of suspicious activity. 

If you are flying, taking the bus, or driving to meet him (or he is you) a friend or family member needs information on the hotel where you are staying (never stay at their home the first time you meet… there is too much of a risk of danger). This includes the address of the hotel, and the address and phone number of the person you are meeting. Make sure you call your friends, or family members, to let them know you arrived safely and what the number of the hotel is. You can never be too safe when meeting someone off the Internet. 

#5 - Setup a Meeting in a Public Place 

Finally, when you are meeting make sure to meet in a public place for the first time. A restaurant, club, or even malls are always good places to meet if you'd like to be surrounded by a lot of people when you meet. Never meet in the house of the person you are meeting from the Internet. Also, never meet in an abandoned warehouse, alley, a deserted street, or in the middle of nowhere/in the country. This is just asking for trouble and setting yourself up for pain and suffering you never want to imagine experiencing.  

#6 - Know the Address by Heart  

If you happen to end up at the house of the person you are meeting make sure you get a good look at the street address and house number before even entering the house. You'll never know when things might start to go in the wrong direction. By knowing the address you will be able to relate it to the authorities should you need to call for help. Unfortunately, those new to a strange city rarely are familiar with neighborhoods, let alone streets and addresses. So, please make sure you are aware of your surroundings, so that you have at least that one advantage in effect in the event the worst does occur. 

We certainly don't mean to scare you away from pursuing your dream man via the Internet! We just want you to remain cautious. In the end, it is best to be careful but remain optimistic in your quest to find Internet love. You might just find that special man you've been waiting for all your life.