Many people use online dating websites and apps as a way to meet new people, form relationships, and make friends. And whilst most people on dating sites are genuine, there are some that have bad intentions.
Take a few moments to make yourself familiar with the below, so you can keep yourself, and your bank account, safe when speaking to anyone online.
Use a username which is anonymous and doesn’t give away your name or any personal information. Also use a strong password.
Be aware of the information you’re sharing with this person. Don’t feel pressured to share personal information like your address or phone number – remember this person is still a stranger. Likewise, think carefully before sharing any private photos.
Research them. Do the results match up with what they’re telling you? Does a reverse image search produce the same results? Be aware that often criminals will steal the whole identity of someone online and so a Google search may not help you uncover who you're really talking to.
Have a real time video call with them before meeting up in person. Don't just accept video messages left for you to watch at a later date.
If someone you’re speaking to asks you to purchase gift cards, crypto currency, transfer money via Western Union or Revolut – don’t feel pressured, block them and stop all contact. Be aware of sob stories. You may think you are doing a good deed by helping them out but this is what the fraudster wants. You should also report them to the website or app you are using. Romance frauds don't always start on dating sites, they can start on Facebook or gaming sites for example. Get more information and advice about dating and romance fraud.
If you decide you want to meet up with this person, following a few simple steps can help to keep you safe.
Meet somewhere neutral and public. Don’t accept a lift to or from the place of your date – make your own way there
Let a family member or friend know when and where you’re going, when you expect to be back, and who you’re meeting up with.
Serenity – the Sexual Assault Referral Centre – is a discreet, confidential 24-hour support service. They can offer practical and emotional advice to you if you have been raped or sexual assaulted and provide advice on what to do next. They have a 24-hour support line on 01604 601713. More information can be found on their website.
All of these support networks are available to everyone, regardless of gender.
At Northamptonshire Police, we promise to listen to you and take your report seriously. We realise it may be difficult to tell us about the event but we won't judge you or doubt you and will treat your report with sensitivity.