Dating apps and websites can be a fun way to meet new people, but it’s important that you keep yourself safe while you swipe. Here’s our top tips for staying safe when using online dating websites and apps:
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.
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.
- fraudulent profiles.
Here are some links to the safety centres of some of the biggest online dating apps and websites:
When you meet
We’ve put together some tips to help you keep yourself safe if you decide to meet up with someone you’ve met online.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 need online safety help or advice, you can contact us seven days a week. Our service is free and confidential.
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call us toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report form at netsafe.org.nz/report
Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on weekends.