With Valentine’s Day creeping up, lots of us who are single-and-ready-to-mingle will be looking to dating apps and websites to line up a hot date or two. There’s nothing more painstaking than curating your dating profile – is this headline charming or cheesy? Is that selfie endearing or just plain awful? – but before you get carried away with schmoozing your digital Mr/Mrs Darcy, spare a thought for what you might be (over)sharing in terms of personal information.
Here are our tips for security-savvy online dating.
Don’t give too much away
There’s a lot more to playing it cool than giving off an intriguing air of mystery… it can protect you from sleuths phishing for personal details to exploit. Don’t give away any information like your address (sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed…), date of birth, mother’s maiden name, or phone numbers before you know the person you’re messaging is who they say they are, no matter how dreamy they seem.
You can’t delete a bad experience
You might be able to wipe pictures and messages from your own device, but hitting the trash can doesn’t delete content forever. The recipient still has their copy, and the network or app you’re using is likely to have stored it too. So think twice before you send anything that you might not want to fall into the wrong hands, or – even better – move the chat over to an app like YEO where you can recall the messages and attachments you send whenever you like.
… your metadata. When you take a picture, your smartphone attaches all sorts of hidden data to the file, including the exact location at which it was taken. If you don’t want this getting into the wrong hands, you can use a metadata removal app to strip off all the details and upload a clean picture.
Location, location, location
Lots of dating apps use your location to match you to nearby singles, which is great for meeting people when travelling for work or leisure. But beware of how you use these features – you don’t want to be advertising to potential burglars that you’re away on holiday and your house is empty.
Do a little stalking
If the initial chit-chat’s gone well and you’re planning to meet up, do a little online sleuthing of your own to investigate your potential date. Are they on social media? If so, how many friends, followers and posts do they have? Does a cursory search of their name bring up anything weird, or indeed anything at all? Do you have any mutual contacts you can probe for info? Do your due diligence to make sure they’re legit, and you could save yourself a lot of trouble later on.