By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Online dating is becoming increasingly popular as a way to meet new people. In the digital age, when there are fewer live social events, it makes sense to meet people online. Enjoy the conveniences of online dating safely with these tips.
Conceal Your Real Phone Number
Google Voice offers free proxy telephone numbers that you can use to route calls to your phone without giving away your real number. Google’s infrastructure manages routing, blocking, and other call features so you have a firewall between your phone and the person on the other end of the call or text. Not only will this keep your real phone number a secret, it may help you conceal your location as well. If you don’t want your potential date to know exactly where you’re located yet, you can choose a Google Voice number with a different area code.
One of the best features of Google Voice comes into play when you decide you need to sever a connection with someone. If you find a person isn’t a good match, yet they don’t seem to get the message, you can use Google’s call screening and call blocking features to prevent any unwanted harassment. Set call screening to hold your calls and messages till later if you want a break from the dating scene, or block unwanted callers entirely. When someone is blocked, they get a message that your number was disconnected when they call.
Set Up a Separate Email Address
Using your personal email address for online dating can lead to all kinds of problems. You may have your everyday email connected to social media sites like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. You’re easily searchable with that bit of information. Instead, set up a separate email address using far less personal information. You can use a false name or omit your last name for an added layer of anonymity.
If you find your dating email bombarded with unwanted messages, you can always abandon it and open a new one. Moving on from an email isn’t as simple when you use the address for work or family connections as well. Keep things simple and safe by separating these worlds.
Turn Off Location Tracking
Pay close attention to the applications on your phone that use location tracking. You may be surprised at just how many sites and apps broadcast your exact location. Disable this feature for your social media sites, so dates who connect with you eventually over Twitter or Facebook still won’t have a detailed map of all your activities. Look into the location tracking used by your dating apps as well to determine whether they’re giving this information away.
If you’re sharing photos with your potential matches, make sure geotagging is turned off on your phone. When geotagging is on, the recipient can pinpoint where you were when you took the picture, which is often your current location if you’re sending a fresh photo.
Conceal Personal Details
Dating sites are a treasure trove of personal information for hackers who are looking to use your details to access other accounts. Don’t reveal details like your last name, address, or birthday. It takes very little for someone to steal your identity.
The threat of someone using your information to fraudulently open a credit card in your name or hack into your bank account is probably one of the furthest things from your mind when you’re looking for a date, which is why you’re so vulnerable. Be careful about what you post and avoid sharing these small details that don’t really tell anyone about your dateability, and instead open you up to the threat of identity theft.
Connect Over a Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) like Hotspot Shield gives you an added layer of protection any time you’re connected to the Internet. This is particularly important when you’re connecting with people for the purpose of online dating. With a VPN, your IP address is secure, so others can’t access your location or personal information.
With a VPN, you route your information through a remote IP address, making it appear as though you’re somewhere other than your real location. Using this smart and safe approach to online communication will help you stay safe with online dating.
Hotspot Shield Free version comes by default with the US Virtual Location and a limited access to streaming content. When you upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite (premium version starts at $2.50/month for a 12-month subscription), you get instant access to 15+ virtual locations, faster speed, complete cloud-based malware protection, unlimited bandwidth and the ability to activate your licence on up to 5 devices simultaneously.
Know the Signs of a Scam
Hackers often target people through online dating sites because those people are more vulnerable, wanting to believe the best about anyone they talk to. Be aware of common signs that the person you’re talking to isn’t genuinely interested in dating, and is instead online to try to steal your personal information.
Scammers are often overly anxious to get you off the dating app. The sooner you contact them using a different means, the easier it is for them to get you away from the security features of the app. Asking for money is another sure sign of a scammer, no matter how legitimate the request seems. These fraudulent daters are often countries away, so look out for a poor command of English or claims of frequent travel that keeps them away.
When you’re careful about what you share and hyper-aware of any suspicious indicators from the person you’re talking to, you can give yourself an edge against hackers in the dating world, and meet people safely.